Everybody's playing this game. So, I thought I would join in. The numbers are meant to be a general, relative weighing of how much the major variables will play in the outcome.
They will help GOP voter turnout, but they also will mobilize Democratic voters who find them frightening and reprehensible. Their behavior is excellent fodder for campaign ads that will legitimately frighten independent voters. In the primaries, the teabaggers are also pushing for even more extreme GOP candidates than usual, who will be less electable in the November.
The wealthcare legislation will hurt the Democrats in a variety of ways. The secretive way such an important piece of legislation was passed was one of many reasons why the legislation was unpopular. Most Democratic voters wanted single payer, yet the Democratic politicians were too corrupt to even include a public option. Even worse, the more you know about what's actually in the legislation, the more clear it is that it is a rightist, de facto Republican piece of legislation whose overall effect is to take care and money away from the middle class, the poor, and the elderly and give money to the HMOs, the health insurers, and the rich speculators who own stock in them. This will be a bigger problem for the Democrats in 2014 and 2016 when some of the more draconian aspects of the legislation take effect, but it will be a major problem for the Democrats this year. Many Democratic voters will stay home, and some will vote Green. Democrats who are partisan enough to rationalize the wealthcare bill show a lack of enthusiasm for it. Independent voters got the same old shit from the Democrats in terms of process and outcome instead of some actual change. The Goppers get to see legislation they love passed and get to blame the Democrats for it.
Both parties will try to blame the other. Both parties deserve to be blamed, but the Democrats deserve to be blamed for different reasons than the ones commonly cited by the corporate media. Obama, Reid, and Pelosi did a long, dragged out push for the wealthcare bill to wear down liberal insistence on the public option. They were so obsessed with giving out a huge financial payoff to their contributors in Big Pharma, the HMOs, and the health insurers that they held legislative action on other issues hostage to a pathetically bad piece of GOP style legislation. A lot of otherwise liberal groups in DC went along with this because the Democrats made it clear that they would get nothing on the single issues they were working on until wealthcare passed. Gopper obstructionism was loud, boisterous, and showed a lack of subtlety. Their inability to quietly obstruct while publicly looking like they were trying to work with the Democrats will reduce the mileage they will get out of this issue. The GOP has really squandered much of its advantage here by behaving in such a childish manner. However, when things go wrong in Washington, voters blame incumbents.
This is the big question mark for 2012. The economy is rotten now. If the election were held today, this would put the Democrats in serious trouble. Many voters would still blame Bush for causing the problem, but they would still be dissatisfied with Democratic efforts to fix the problem. However, the overall trends in job losses vs. job growth are very positive. If employment trends continue (admittedly a big if), the voters will see an economy that is getting better with Democrats in charge while it was in a downward spiral under the GOP. The only question then will be how much a positive direction in a still weak economy will be enough to sway voters.
Midterm elections generally are bad for the party in power. Aside from the economy, things look really, really bad for the Democrats. However, the economy probably will change in the next seven months. It looks like the GOP will pick up quite a few seats, but they will have squandered an opportunity to get a 1994 style win by their own obnoxiousness and extremism. To gauge the outcome, look at the unemployment numbers. That's the only major variable in play.