Midterm Elections a Steeper Hill for Democrats

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With midterm elections just seven months away, polls show Republicans have a good chance to hold the House and take back the Senate.

Some analysts say a GOP plan to re-draw congressional districts is behind the party's bright prospects.

But the White House may also have a big impact on the Democrats' fragile nerves.

Under President Barack Obama, Democrats have turned out their base brilliantly for presidential elections. But in congressional elections, the GOP has had the advantage even as Obama was winning a second term in 2012.

"In the House, Democratic candidates actually got 1.4 million more votes than their Republican opponents," Associated Press reporter Stephen Ohlemacher said.

However, Republicans maintained a 33-seat majority because of the way congressional districts were drawn in a number of states.

Will the GOP gain control of the Senate? CBN Chief Political Correspondent David Brody, answers this and more, on CBN Newswatch.

But Republicans also have a big advantage in geography, especially in mid-term elections, when the races get less attention.

For instance, in the 2008, one would think that the red counties won by former presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, would have produced a landslide win over Obama and Joe Biden, who won the blue counties.

But it was the other way around.

The U.S. Constitution calls for state legislatures to re-draw congressional districts every 10 years after the census. So, when the GOP won a big Tea Party victory in 2010, they took charge of the process.

"Control those state legislative chambers and governorships in those states, you had a better opportunity to make sure you were drawing lines that were fair and competitive, and Republicans could do well heading into the 2012 elections and through the rest of the decade," Matthew Walter, president of Republican State Leadership Committee, said.

But Democrats have helped Republicans with the gift that keeps on giving: the president's health care plan. Four years ago, Obamacare helped the GOP win a historic 63 House seats and oust Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"Well, it was the issue in 2010 that caused us to have the Tea Party revolution. It was all around the issue of health care," former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And this election is going to be all around the issue of health care. And they're two great elections for Republicans."

Democrats still have time to make the elections about something other than Obamacare. But the party in power nearly always loses seats in the middle of a president's second term.

And with voters convinced the country is going in the wrong direction, it's a steep hill for Democrats to climb.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.