There is no doubt that the three major controversies on which President Barack Obama finds his administration on the defensive — Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservatives and the seizure of AP phone records — have changed the political narrative of the day. Instead of mobilizing all of his resources to promote his agenda, the president and administration officials are having to spend time and energy answering and rebutting Republican charges.
But it isn’t clear how much of an impact, if any, the controversies will have on the 2014 midterms. Even if (when) those controversies fade, however, there could be short-term consequences for both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the area of recruitment.
Are potential 2014 candidates now looking at the environment and concluding that next year won’t be as good a Democratic year as they had hoped? Are they reassessing their intentions, concluding that the IRS scandal, in particular, will produce an energized and united GOP?
So far, Democratic strategists say that they have not heard from potential candidates who are worried about a deteriorating political environment or showing greater hesitancy about taking the electoral plunge this cycle. But at least it is worth watching over the next couple of months to see if often-mentioned potential candidates start jumping into races or removing themselves from consideration.
Candidate recruitment, after all, can determine which states and districts are in play in November 2014 and which races have simply vanished from everyone’s scorecard.