Political commentator Charlie Cook previews midterm elections

Political commentator Charlie Cook previews midterm elections

Courtesy of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers and Global Automakers

The main question about the midterms, political analyst Charlie Cook told a packed room during a WAS Media Day session, is what this election will be about. Will Republican problems from 2012 carry over to 2014? Or will it be a classic midterm election, characterized by Obama fatigue? Some of both, Cook concluded.

Because of snow, the session with the popular Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report and columnist for National Journal, had to be moved from its original time and venue the day before, where it had been sold out at the Cannon House Office Building. But by the afternoon of the next day, a throng of reporters and Capitol Hill staffers came to hear him on-site at the WAS.

Cook said it is 95 percent certain that the House will stay in Republican hands because of the way the districts are drawn. If the election were held today, the Republicans would likely pick up nine House seats. But the election is a long way off, and the accuracy of forecasts so far ahead is zero, said Cook. The Senate is within a seat or two of going to either party.

Currently, the Republican Party has trouble reaching voters who are minorities, young, female or moderate. In 2012, only 72 percent of voters were white, a percentage that has dropped roughly 20 points in just a few years, Cook said, noting the trend will continue. Whats more, 53 percent of voters are female, and voters younger than 30 are likely Democrats. Older voters – the pre-dead according to Cook – are overwhelmingly Republican.

If the Republican Party was a business enterprise, it would be unsustainable, he said.

In five of the six midterm elections since World War II, Cook pointed out that the party in the White House got crushed.

Theres no evidence that the Republican Party brand is any better than in the last election, he said. But the presidential approval rating for Obama is 38 to 42 percent, and thats really low. So there is no reason to expect the Democrats are going to do any better than in any other midterm.

Will last years government shutdown hurt Republican prospects in the elections? Americans are known for their short memories in politics. And the launch of Obamacare went so badly that its as if the shutdown never happened, according to Cook.

On the presidential race, Cook said theres a 70 percent chance Hillary Clinton will run. She turns 69 in 2016, however, and may decide not to run for personal reasons. Regarding the Republican field, Cook referenced the usual suspects: Texas Governor Rick Perry; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; former Pennsylvania governor and former senator Rick Santorum; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; and, finally, several members of Congress, to include Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The likely candidates illustrate how conservative the Republican Party has become. The Tea Party

moved the Republican Party two to three notches to the right, said Cook. Thats very lasting.

The National Journal presentation of Charlie Cook at the WAS was sponsored by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers.

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