Imagine what would have happened in the midterm elections if the Jonathan Gruber videos had emerged a week before November 4th than the week after. Actually, we don’t have to imagine it, at least not entirely. There is one more Senate race still left to settle, and it looks like Gruber will play a big part in the finale for Mary Landrieu in Louisiana:
I included this in last night’s QOTD, but it’s worth its own look here. The attack strategy in the last two cycles of “Senator X was the deciding vote on ObamaCare” had a mixed track record. The exposure of Gruber’s remarks makes the attack work better than it did in the past, though. It makes each Democrat complicit in the lies and deceptions of ObamaCare which may resonate better than opposition to the law itself. The sheer arrogance of Gruber’s remarks will rub most voters raw.
However, even here we’re only getting a trace of what this would have done in the midterms. Landrieu was toast before the Gruber videos emerged; this will just singe her incrementally more. What would have been the impact of these remarks in New Hampshire, or in Virginia? Given a few days to hear Gruber chortle with glee about the stupidity of the American voter and the way Democrats lied to pass it, it’s not difficult to imagine that the narrow losses for Republicans in both races might have come out a little differently.
It also might put an end to the thoughts of Senate comebacks, expressed a week ago in the National Journal:
“This was a wave, and I think it was also the product of turnout more than these individual people being rejected,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “I think there’s an opportunity for them to run again. … Voters don’t particularly hold it against you that you lost.”
In North Carolina, Democrats are openly talking about the prospect of Democrat Kay Hagan, who lost narrowly last week, challenging Republican Sen. Richard Burr in 2016. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who narrowly lost to Republican Dan Sullivan, could run against GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski next cycle. And there are others who are seen as potential repeat candidates: Should Mary Landrieu lose her runoff election in Louisiana, she might run against GOP Sen. David Vitter in 2016 (or in an open-seat race if he’s elected governor); Georgia’s Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter could position themselves for the 2016 Senate race or 2018 governor’s race.
The benefits of running a repeat candidate, especially if they’re former incumbents, are obvious: These are people who know how to raise money, put together a campaign operation, and campaign statewide. Plus, these candidates would be facing a very different electorate than the one that gave Republicans big victories this fall—a presidential electorate, with the kind of national turnout operation that has helped elevate Democratic down-ballot candidates as well.
If they do, they can expect lots of reminders of Jonathan Gruber and the way they deceived voters. In fact, this line of attack may last as long as Democrats from the 111th Congress remain in office. Voters might have a very long memory about this insult, even more so than about the bill itself.