October 2014: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys Government Affairs

By now, you have likely seen and heard numerous campaign ads running across your television screen or on your radio on the drive into work. While this is no different from the usual biannual campaign season barrage, the outcome of this election is surely going to be tight and very impactful.

As you are aware, all 435 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for re-election and must be voted back to office by the electorate. However, in the Senate, the 100 Senators are staggered by “elected class,” so that one-third of the Senate is up for re-election every two years, with overall six-year terms. Most pundits and elected officials agree that the U.S. House of Representatives, currently controlled by Republicans with 233 Members, will remain in the hands of Republicans, who many believe may in fact increase their majority with an uptick in the number of seats held by Republicans. Where things get really interesting is in the U.S. Senate.

Currently, the U.S. Senate is controlled by Democrats who hold a majority with 53 Members and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. However, many pundits and elected officials have stated that they believe the Senate has a good chance of being taken over by the Republicans or at the very least, that the Democrat majority will shrink to 51 seats. I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss a couple of factors that will play into the Senate election and impact the outcome of this election.

The first factor that will play a massive role in the upcoming Senate elections is the historical evidence that shows the mid-term elections in a President’s second term (the upcoming election) is usually very harsh on the President’s party in Congressional races. Add to that the fact that Senate Democrats have 20 seats to defend across the country and Republicans only have 13 seats to defend, and the recipe is ripe for a hard election night for Senate Democrats.

The second factor that will most likely have a deep impact this election cycle is the current approval rating of President Obama. As of the time of writing this piece, the most recent Gallup poll shows that President Obama’s approval rating stands at a measly 38 percent. It is quite clear that Democrat Senators are afraid of this issue as most Senators in the eight “toss-up” states have tried to distance themselves quite clearly from the President and his policies.

The third factor that will likely play an integral role in the outcome of the elections is the ongoing political unrest throughout the world. With issues such as immigration, terrorism, Ukraine, Israel and many other international issues, campaigns are going to have to quickly swivel, change tactics and throw away their favored campaign talking points to address these ongoing issues and how the United States should respond.

On top of all of these factors, we can always expect to hear and see some major political missteps along the way. There have been numerous political missteps already in this campaign cycle, and I am assuming we will likely see others before all is said and done. If the election were held today as I write this, I would predict that the Republicans take over the majority of Senate seats, but have a slim majority in which to legislate. As always, it is imperative that you are making your voices heard, you are getting involved, and you are staying informed. Take the time to educate yourselves on MCAA’s top legislative issues and make sure your elected officials and candidates know where you stand on these issues. Stay tuned and stay involved.

Matt Keelen is founder and president of the government affairs firm The Keelen Group, www.keelengroup.com.

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