Midterm 2014: GOP, Dems Their Own Worst Enemy?

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WASHINGTON -- It's the time for New Year's resolutions and number one for Republicans is turning around the party in time for November's midterm elections.

Problems with Obamacare could help them keep the House of Representatives and win control of the Senate, but internal bickering could be their downfall.

However, the GOP sees Obamacare as their ace in the hole. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CBN News they will use it every chance they get.

"Politically, the answer is let Obamacare go through. We'll tattoo it to their foreheads and beat them in 2014," Priebus said. "The problem with the political answer is that it's a painful thing for a lot of people."

Obamacare Fallout

That pain can be felt across the country. In Cooperstown, N.D., Brook Fredrickson found out she couldn't keep her healthcare plan even though the president said she could.

"It was a lie. It was a lie," Fredrickson told CBN News from her home in North Dakota. "There's millions of Americans all over the country.  Just turn on the news. It's really sad."

This problem is costing President Barack Obama at the wrong time.  His approval numbers are down to 43 percent.  That's even lower than George W. Bush, who sat at 47 percent after five years of his presidency. 

It could drop even further if the president and Democrats don't quickly resolve the Obamacare issues.

GOP's Ace in the Hole?

Republicans need six seats to control the Senate and they'll go after moderate Democrats who supported Obamacare.

"I think it's a political liability for any Democrat that voted for it," Republican Senator John Thune, R-S.D., told CBN news. "Most Senate Democrats, it passed by a one vote margin so every single of them that voted for it cast the deciding vote."

Conservative campaign ads against these moderate Democrats are already in full swing. The strategy so far from these vulnerable Democrats is to keep their distance from the president.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is has already released a re-election ad where she implores the president to keep his promise on an individual's health care plan.

Senate Democrats won't be the only ones fighting for their political survival. On the Republican side, some longtime GOP establishment senators will get challenges from Tea Party-backed candidates.

It's already happening at the top where Tea Party conservative Matt Bevin is going after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Others like Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, face primary fights as well.

Tea Party v. the Old Guard

This also marks the other political theme of 2014: the Tea Party vs. the establishment.

The Tea Party wants strong constitutional conservatives in office, while the old guard wants to grow their numbers even if candidates don't toe the conservative line.

This debate played out in 2012 after some Tea Party primary winners faltered and then received the blame for costing Republicans control of the Senate.

"We let races slip out of our hands and we really let the senate majority slip away from us over these last two cycles," American Crossroads CEO Steven Law told CBN News. "That's something that all of us ought to agree that's something we should never allow to happen."

However, that won't be easy. Special interest groups from both sides of the spectrum are already arming for the fight.

McCain: GOP Not the Enemy

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. told CBN News all this bickering has to stop.

"We've all got to work together, hash out our differences. But our adversary is the Democrat Party not the Republican Party," McCain said.

"Let the Republican primary voters decide who our candidates are going to be rather than pouring money in attack ads against Republicans raised from Republicans," he continued. "It doesn't make any sense."

Although that scenario leaves Senate control in doubt, the GOP should still be in charge of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections.
 
That doesn't mean an easy road for House Speaker John Boehner.  He faces a determined Tea Party caucus and outside groups, like Club for Growth and Heritage Action, who he believes have pushed Tea Party candidates in too pure a direction.

Talk radio host Mark Levin told CBN News a fight over the true meaning of conservatism is at hand.

"They need to embrace and re-acquaint themselves with conservative principles, constitutional Republicanism and make the case over and over and over again and at every angle fight for it - at every turn fight for it," he said.

So 2014 begins with a fireworks show that will only get hotter as the elections get closer.

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David Brody

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David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.