Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Handicapping 2014: A Pause Could Add Perspective

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Although Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, may be pounding the pavement looking for candidates in 2014, even campaign committees take a breather.

And, as everyone who follows elections already knows, candidates have already started to announce their plans for 2014, whether in West Virginia or South Dakota.

News, of course, deserves to be reported, so when West Virginia Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announces her Senate candidacy for 2014, it surely is worth reporting. But that’s a far cry from the detailed pieces about next cycle or the lists of seats most likely to change parties that we’ve already seen.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York may indeed be pounding the pavement looking for candidates in 2014, but his campaign committee, like all the others, has staffers from last cycle looking for new jobs and vacancies in key positions. Even the campaign committees take a breather.

There is another reason for delaying a detailed examination of the 2014 races.

For the moment, we still have little idea what the economic and political environments will be like as the 2013-2014 cycle unfolds. What happens in Washington, D.C., over the next couple of weeks and months surely will help establish a new political landscape, presenting challenges and opportunities for both parties.

And, if the 2012 elections should have taught us anything, it is that events and context matter.

Will the midterm elections take place when voters are content or unhappy? Will the president be seen as a strong, successful leader in his second term, or will voters start to show buyer’s remorse for re-electing President Barack Obama?

Will the president turn the economy around, or will foreign policy crises, in the Middle East and elsewhere, create new concerns that draw the public’s attention?

I am not suggesting that we ignore politics completely now. After all, I recently wrote a column on how the 2012 Senate results could affect Democrats’ prospects for winning a supermajority in the future.

And I am not arguing that we hold off race-by-race handicapping of the 2014 elections until we know exactly where the economy will be or how events in the Middle East unfold. But the last thing we need is longer elections and a detailed dissection about an election cycle that really won’t start to take shape until well into January, at the earliest.

Stuart Rothenberg (@stupolitics) is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report (rothenbergpoliticalreport.com).

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