Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, coordinating closely at times with the Obama administration, has pushed a host of measures to try and ignite his base out of their malaise. Raising the minimum wage, immigration reform and actually enacting the “nuclear option” on how judicial nominees were confirmed in the Senate all seems to be a near replay of how the Republican majority conducted business on its way out the door. Naturally, Democratic strategists have sworn up and down that all is well, dutifully enacting the role of Kevin Bacon at the end of “Animal House." Yet the over-the-top reaction of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to Nate Silver’s prediction of a Republican takeover in the Senate indicates their growing unease.
Despite the seeming good news for Republicans, some experienced operatives are cautious. Phil Musser, who served as executive director of the Republican Governor’s Association during the 2006 cycle, echoed those sentiments, "Climate-wise, there are some interesting parallels between 2006 and 2014. What remains to be seen is how the climate morphs or changes by the fall. In 2006, it got markedly worse in mid-October, with the president refusing to change out Rumsfeld at [the Department of] Defense and Mark Foley's intern scandal guaranteed that a bad year would get worse. The field of play looks similar, but you can't predict the nature of the late surprises, and we have a way to go."
Regardless of how this year’s elections turn out, there remains a striking parallel between the 2006 midterms and the fundamentals of this year’s race. Beyond the fact that both were held in the sixth year of a president’s term, what is remarkable about each is the similarity of “tried and true” tactics employed by the leadership of each party to try and right a listing ship. To be sure, the Obama administration has pulled itself out of a fire before, but it always had the seemingly bulletproof popularity of the president to lean on in those times. With his signature legislation now struggling and new problems like a stirring Russia on the horizon, Democrats face a monumental task in the months ahead, while Republicans count down the months and await another chance at running both chambers on Capitol Hill.
Joe Brettell is a former Capitol Hill aide and currently serves as a communications consultant to a range of corporate and political clients. On Twitter @joebrettell
Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.