If things are really as bad as they look for Democrats this year, there seems to be no shortage of explanations. I will argue, however, that all the proffered causes fall a bit short of the whole.
Things do look really bad. Michael Barone has this
Here's an astonishing poll: David Freddoso at Conservative Intelligence Briefing links to a report by the Washington Post's Aaron Blake that West Virginia 3rd district incumbent Rep. Nick Rahall trails Republican challenger state Sen. Evan Jenkins by a 54-percent to 40-percent margin…
Rahall, first elected in 1976, is now the seventh most senior member of the House... Moreover, his district in southern West Virginia has historically been very Democratic; in its previous boundaries it voted for Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan in 1984…
From 1978 to 2008, Rahall was re-elected with at least 64 percent of the vote, except in 1990 when he beat Republican Marianne Brewster by only 52 percent to 48 percent.
Put that together with a Republican leading in the Senate race in Michigan and the Republican victory in the Florida special election, and we may well be looking at an historic collapse. Ben Highton puts it more mildly in the WaPo:
So what are the causes? Highton rounds up three of the usual suspects.
Part of the problem for Democrats is that it’s a midterm election year and the party that controls the White House typically loses seats. On top of that, national conditions do not look very promising if Democrats are to buck the usual tide against the president’s party. At this point, national conditions look, at best, average for a midterm election, and in the case of presidential approval, not very good at all.
Okay, so we have the election cycle, national conditions (meaning the economy), and presidential approval, in order of increasing severity. As for the latter, Gallop now has the President’s approval at 39% (vs. 55% disapproval). His RCP average now has him down ten points, 43 to 53.
Maureen Dowd identifies the fourth factor, which is obviously related to the third.
At the heart of all this, really, is that the White House totally blew the rollout of the health care law and Democrats have not recovered. It provided a huge opening for Republicans, who had just shut down the government and were tanking in the polls and in despair themselves.
This strikes me as too harsh and too kind. The botched rollout was devastating, to be certain; but the effects would have faded if we weren’t constantly reminded that the Affordable Health Care Act is in utter disarray. We are reminded of this as the Administration continually modifies, delays, or suspends various parts of the law.
Dana Milbank notes that the “millennials,” who were a key part of Obama’s support, are not voting with their feet for ObamaCare.
The administration announced last week that only 1.08 million people ages 18 to 34 had signed up for Obamacare by the end of February, or about 25 percent of total enrollees. If the proportion doesn’t improve significantly, the result likely will be fatal for the Affordable Care Act.
So if the Democrats do suffer a disaster this November, will ObamaCare be the determining factor? Yes, in the sense that the proximate cause of a death by heart attack is that the heart stops beating. That still raises the question of what caused the heart attack.
Dowd points to the ultimate cause of the Democratic funk:
The state of relations between congressional Democrats and the administration has been deteriorating every week, but now it’s hitting a new bottom… Hill Democrats are seething at Obama, fearing that the onetime messiah is putting them in a slough that will last until — or through — 2016.
Top Democrats who were fans of the president and prone to giving him the benefit of the doubt now say they’ve completely lost confidence in the White House’s ability to advance an agenda and work with them in a way that’s going to give Democrats a fighting chance in November.
That would be the problem. The White House’s inability "to advance an agenda and work with" Congressional Democrats, but the fact that they have, hitherto, for six years, given Mr. Obama “the benefit of the doubt”.
The hard truth is that Congressional Democrats have been propping up a largely vacant administration since Mr. Obama took office. That is political capital spent without any return. The President’s allies in the mainstream press have been doing much the same. Now that events both foreign and domestic have exposed his nakedness, the bill is coming due.