Election 2014 update: Harry Reid plays the villain

Hoping to keep embattled Senate Dems afloat, the majority leader uses his obscurity to his party's advantage

Published September 19, 2014 2:02PM (EDT)

                          (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

As we enter the fall months, when most Americans just start thinking about maybe paying attention to politics sometime soon, it's important to remember that although the media talks about this year's election as if it were a singular event, the midterm is comprised of hundreds of individual races, many of which will be decided over local issues. The way a race plays out in Texas, for example, may have nothing to do with what happens in Rhode Island.

That's the Democrats' hope, at least, and it's one with a lot of pull among those whose collective judgments we call the conventional wisdom. "All politics is local," as the saying goes — and with President Obama's approval ratings currently hovering near his all-time low, Democrats better hope so. If every race in the midterm turns out to be a referendum on the president, Democrats are going to have a rough time of it. But if they can make it a choice between their candidate and that of the still-unpopular GOP (with Obama nowhere to be seen), they may be able to hold on to the Senate.

Here's the latest news on how Dems are trying to keep the election local, as well as the other recent major happenings in this year's campaign:

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to Politico, is doing his damnedest to shield his caucus from having to cast politically unpalatable votes, and although the move is a pretty normal one for a majority leader to make, it's still got Republicans fuming. That's just fine with Reid, however, Politico reports, since he considers himself a much less well-known enemy than Barack Obama, one less likely to inspire GOP voters to organize for the election. "I’m meaningless," Reid told Politico. "People in red states don’t even know who I am.”
  • In other Senate news, the Supreme Court of Kansas ruled that Chad Taylor, the one-time Democratic nominee for Senate who has dropped out but whose name Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach refused to remove from the ballot, can have his name taken off the ballot in 2014. This is being widely interpreted as a win for Democrats, because the independent candidate, Greg Orman, now standing as incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts' only real rival is polling well and is a former Dem, to boot.
  • Nearly as important but less widely covered than the race to control the Senate, the reelection campaigns of governors Scott Walker and Rick Snyder, of Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively, are struggling to persuade voters that their states' economies have truly recovered. National Journal reports  that both men, who aggressively tried to push their state to the right during their time in office, are banking that the backlash they've incurred won't be strong enough to overcome their decisive advantage when it comes to fundraising.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

MORE FROM Elias Isquith

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Barack Obama Election 2014 Election Update 2014 Greg Orman Harry Reid Pat Roberts Rick Snyder Scott Walker