New York Times Suggests Republican House Members Face An “Uphill Battle” In 2012
At the New York Times, Jonathan Weisman argues that Republican members of the House who are running for Senate this election cycle face an “uphill battle” against Democrats.
“Republicans, who need a net gain of only four seats to guarantee control of the Senate, have long been optimistic that they could capture the majority because they are defending just 10 of the 33 seats up for grabs,” writes Weisman after highlighting North Dakota’s Senate race between Rep. Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp as a case-in-point. “But their task is complicated by the fact that many of their candidates are sitting or recent members of the House, which polls show to be deeply unpopular.”
As you might expect, the Heitkamp campaign is already hyping this, but the Times is using a specious thesis, and at Politico Dave Catanese agrees, noting that Berg has “atmospheric advantages” over Heitkamp in North Dakota.
That’s certainly true, and we should also point out that overall approval ratings for Congress (and each house thereof) don’t necessarily translate into law support for individual members.
The 2010 election cycle was considered a “wave” year in which there was a lot of turnover in Congress. And yet, a vast majority of House incumbents were re-elected. Just because the House has a low approval rating doesn’t mean individual members of the House are unpopular in their districts/states.
Since she was last elected on the statewide ballot in 1996, Heidi Heitkamp has moved far to the left. In fact, the picture of Heitkamp used by the Times to illustrate their article shows Heitkamp on stage shouting her support for Obamacare at a rally staged by the SEIU.
In 2010 Rick Berg won a seat in the Senate by campaigning against Earl Pomeroy’s support for Obamacare. Since then, dislike of Obamacare in North Dakota has only intensified (the legislature refused to begin implementing the federal health care law’s required health care exchanges during an interim session late last year), and Heitkamp has been carefully avoiding the issue.
She won’t be able to avoid it forever, though, nor will she be able to turn on her previous out-spoken support for it.
And Heitkamp has more working against her than Obamacare. Her cozy relationship with tobacco trial lawyers – including the $40,000 in contributions she’s taken from the law firm of the man she appointed as AG to represent North Dakota in the Big Tobacco class action, not to mention the separate campaign fund she authorized chock-full of trial lawyer money – aren’t exactly going to play well with the North Dakota public either.
If the state’s media ever gets around to reporting such things. But I digress.
So far Heitkamp’s campaign strategy seems to be making it appear as though she’s every bit the Republican Rick Berg is (something for which she’s getting flak from her Democrat primary challenger). It’s a little foolish to think of that as a winning strategy.Tags: election 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, new york times, North Dakota News, obamacare, Rick Berg