A political analyst looks at the issues facing the Republicans and Democrats as they look to next year’s congressional races and the 2016 presidential contest.
Much like the secret meetings at the Vatican to determine the new pope, the major political parties are holding their own “conclaves” right now to figure out how to approach the next couple of election cycles, says Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report. Walter spoke during a luncheon at NAR’s Association Executive Institute event in San Diego, Calif., which ends this week.
Both parties face obstacles over the next several years, Walter says. Unsurprisingly, the biggest issue the GOP has to deal with is appealing more to minorities, a topic discussed at length in the months following the 2012 presidential election.
The Romney campaign believed that the 2012 election would play out much like the one in 1980, in which voter dissatisfaction with the economy and with the general direction of the economy led to Ronald Reagan beating Jimmy Carter, Walter says. However, minorities totaled just 11 percent of the electorate in 1980, she said. In 2012, they made up 26 percent. That trend will continue as 50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month in the United States.
“If your base is older, white voters, the trend line isn’t exactly going in the right direction,” Walter says.
This will make it more difficult for the GOP to win future presidential elections, she adds. Right now, if you look at the national picture, Democrats have a virtual lock on 17 states and the District of Columbia, which equates to 242 electoral votes. The GOP, by contrast, only has about 13 states that are practically guaranteed, which amount to 102 electoral votes.
This gap is at the heart of the effort by GOP Chair Reince Priebus to reach out to minorities over the next few years, Walter says. Additionally, Republicans are touting young rising stars like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who are of Indian and Latino descent, respectively.
Despite their success in winning the presidency again last year, the Democrats have significant challenges of their own, Walter says. At the state level, the average GOP congressional district has gotten whiter. That’s due to a combination of redistricting and the fact that Democratic voters tend to cluster in urban areas with a much smaller geographic footprint.
Additionally, the 2014 midterm elections could shift the momentum back to the GOP, she says. Most of the close battles for Senate seats are going to be in states that tend to vote Republican. And minority and young voters typically don’t turn out as much for midterms. That means it will be very difficult for the Democrats to win back a majority in the House and maintain a commanding majority in the Senate for the foreseeable future. “It’s going to be a lot of defense for the Democrats [next] year,” Walter explains.
Also, there’s still some uncertainty as to who the Democratic candidate for president in 2016 will be. Hillary Clinton would seem to be an obvious choice, but it’s not entirely clear whether she’s going to run. And other than Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrats don’t have that many appealing candidates to choose from, Walter says. In contrast, GOP has a surprisingly deep and diverse group of potential candidates right now, including Jindal, Rubio, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Kentucky Rep. Rand Paul.
“If [Hillary Clinton] doesn’t run, it’s going to be a thin bench for the Democrats,” Walter says.
By Wendy Cole, Senior Editor, REALTOR Magazine®
Sustained job growth and improved access to capital are the two roadblocks to gettting the economy back on track, Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, Jr. (D–Mo.) told the Equal Opportunity-Cultural Diversity Forum Tuesday at NAR’s 2011 Midyear Legislative Meetings. Since 2007, 8.4 million jobs have been lost, he said. “While 244,000 jobs were created last month, this country requires a good deal of momentun for the economy to prosper,” Clay said.
He implored attendees to “mobilize, organize and, in the words of social reformer Frederick Douglass agitate, agitate, agitate” to further the interests of the real estate industry. He concedes that proposed legislation to require home buyers to make 20 percent downpayments could be an “overreach” in an effort to counter lax standards that contributed to the housing downturn. Clay encouraged real estate pros to reach out to members of Congress to raise their concerns about issues that could adversely affect home ownership, including challenges to the MID, GSE reform, and the impact of short sales on credit scores.
By Robert Freedman, senior editor, REALTOR® Magazine
However you look at it, the upcoming midterm elections in November will be important for real estate.
Home sales and commercial real estate are still struggling, just like the broader economy. So, candidates for Congress, both challengers and incumbants, will have their eyes on real estate.
After the elections, Congress is set to look at what to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Flood insurance reforms are still pending. FHA reform is still pending.
More broadly, members will be grappling with what to do about the federal budget deficit. What will they do about taxes? What will they try to cut?
You can be certain what they do with taxes and cuts could impact the environment for selling and leasing real estate, both residential and commercial.
On a positive note, homeownership in important ways remains above the partisan fray. It’s a bedrock values issue for members of Congress. That’s not to say there won’t be pressure on lawmakers to consider changes that could impact homeownership. Anything is possible. But real estate issues start with solid, bipartisan support because lawmakers understand how fundamental homeownership is and how critical commercial real estate is to the economy.
To get an idea of what’s ahead in the upcoming elections, the magazine sat down with NAR Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello and RPAC Managing Director Scott Reiter (see the 5-minute video above). What they made clear is that REALTORS®’ involvement in the political process is more important than ever because the stakes today are so high.
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
The National Association of REALTORS® could be contacting members this summer as Congress seeks to revamp health care coverage for Americans. NAR supports what’s known as the SHOP (Small business owners Health Options Program) Bill, which would enable small business owners and self-employed individuals to band together across state lines to negotiate affordable health insurance.
NAR Deputy Chief Lobbyist Jamie Gregory sat down with REALTOR® magazine last week to talk about what REALTORS® can expect as Congress starts debating legislation. Gregory notes that the elements of SHOP have to fit into the larger health reform legislation that’s currently under discussion. The main sticking point is what’s known as the public plan option. This is where the government fills in the gaps left by private insurance providers. We’ll be carefully watching–and reporting–how this plays out.
Watch the inteview with Gregory to find out more information.