From Ebola to Canada shooting, bad news is helping the GOP

Ebola, the shooting at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, American kids running off to join Islamic State, lunatics jumping the White House fence, racial protests in Ferguson, Mo. -- there is a long list of things making American voters uneasy as election day approaches. And when voters get rattled, they tend to vote against the people in power.

More precisely, all the troubling stuff gets blamed on the guy in the White House, whether that is fair and justified or not. As a result, we have the current political spectacle of Republican candidates for the House and Senate trying to make the campaign a referendum on Barack Obama. And, while they run against Obama, Democratic candidates are racing away from Obama, like Wile E. Coyote running from a lighted stick of dynamite.

This tactical abandonment of the president does not seem to be doing Democrats much good, though. It’s hard not to look like a weasel when you forsake the head of your party. Anti-Obama voters are more likely to think you are lying or fickle than to see you as principled and independent.

Maybe a Democratic candidate would not fare any better by standing tall and defending the Democratic president and Democratic ideals and accomplishments, but at least he or she would go down fighting instead of being remembered as someone who would do anything to hang on to a cushy job in Congress.


There are still quite a few close Senate races, but the latest polls indicate that momentum is slightly favoring Republicans. Some of this drift to the GOP must be driven by the weird news. It seems as if no one has a handle on things, whether it is a scary disease imported from Africa or security at the White House. The Republican Party has spent years perfecting the game of playing on people’s fears and that useful skill seems to be made for these disturbing times.

Democrats are offering an echo, not a choice, at least in the red states where all the tight races are located. Democratic candidates are, more often than not, trying to sound like Republicans on issues such as guns and energy and getting tough with terrorists. Very likely, some high-paid political consultant has guaranteed them that is the way to win, but when the Democrat essentially concedes that the Republican position is right on so many hot-button items, it should not be surprising that a majority of voters might decide to go for the real deal and cast a ballot for the Republican.

The president could be in for a frustrating finale to his two terms in office. If the GOP captures the Senate, Obama will not be just a lame duck, he will be a cooked goose.