Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus predicted Tuesday that the GOP would win the Senate and gain House seats in the November elections, saying flatly that he expected his party to ride a “tsunami” to victory in the midterms.
Citing President Obama's low job approval ratings and the unpopularity of Obamacare, Priebus didn't hesitate when asked whether he thought 2014 would be a wave election for the Republican Party or a traditional contest reminiscent of the battle for control of Congress two years ago. In 2012, the GOP and the Democratic Party maintained their grip on the House and Senate, respectively, although Democrats picked up a few seats in each chamber.
“I think that we’re in for a tsunami-type election in 2014. My belief is that it’s going to be a very big win, especially at the U.S. Senate level, and I think we may even add some seats in the congressional races,” Priebus told reporters during a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.
Pressed for us evidence, Priebus said GOP victories in recent special elections for San Diego mayor and Congress in Florida’s St. Petersburg-area 13th district remind him of the national wave the Republicans faced in 2006 and 2008, when they collectively lost 14 Senate seats and more than 50 House seats. Priebus said the winning candidates in San Diego and Florida's 13th district did a “nice job offering a positive vision” but said there were other factors in play.
“You had the nationalization of Barack Obama and Obamacare in both of those places,” Priebus said. “It is a poisonous issue for Democrats, just like there were national issues that really hurt us in '06 and '08.”
Republican strategists involved in House and Senate races have been more cautious in their predictions for this year than Priebus — at least publicly.
While it is true that Republicans in Congress and their advisers are more bullish on their 2014 prospects in the wake of the special House election in Florida, they have shied away from pronouncements about a wave election similar to 2010 and attributed the party’s victory in Florida to issues beyond voter dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act, such as pessimism about jobs and the economy.
Priebus also shared some information about the 2016 election cycle, announcing that the GOP's next presidential nominating convention would likely kick off June 27 or July 18. Priebus said the RNC would narrow the list of cities vying to hold the event to three by June, with the final selection made in August.
“We have to make sure that we put together a process and an operation that gives our nominee the best possible platform in order to be successful,” Priebus said.