Could The House Lawsuit Against Obama Cost The GOP The Senate?

In what would be a classic bit of political irony, polling indicates that the House lawsuit against the President could make Democrats more likely to vote in November.


A new McClatchy-Marist poll indicates that the House GOP’s lawsuit against President Obama could end up being something that gets Democrats to the polls in November:

The lawsuit against President Barack Obama could have a negative effect against Republicans, a new poll shows.

A McClatchy/Marist poll shows that 88 percent of Democrats said they’re more likely to vote for a Democrat in the midterm elections after the House GOP authorized the lawsuit against Obama. The poll also showed that 78 percent of Republicans said they’re more likely to vote for a GOP candidate as a result of the lawsuit.

A majority of Americans also oppose the lawsuit altogether. Overall, 58 percent said the House should not sue Obama, with a 87 percent of Democrats opposing it, compared to 57 percent of Republicans.

These numbers are largely consistent with other polling from CNN/ORC International and CBS News which showed that, with the exception of Republicans, a majority of Americans opposed the House lawsuit against the President. Now we have a poll that suggests that the lawsuit, which will likely be filed at some point prior to the November elections, could end up being something that causes Democrats to get out and vote in an election where, in many states, turnout will likely be key in determining who controls the Senate starting in January. The battle for the Senate is likely to be a close one to begin with, and in states like Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina turnout is going to play a huge role in deciding who wins and, likely, whether the Majority Leader in January is Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell. If the House lawsuit ends up causing more Democrats to come out for Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, or Kay Hagan then it could end up being the deciding factor.

There is, of course, some irony in the possibility that the House lawsuit could end up causing more Democrats to come out to vote in November. As I’ve said before, it’s rather obvious that the political purpose of the lawsuit is to both placate that portion of the Republican Party that favors impeaching President Obama, which polling indicates to be a majority of self-identified Republicans, and to rile up the enthusiasm of the most active wing for the GOP in preparation for the General Election. There would be some irony, then, if instead it ended up getting enough Democrats and Independents upset that the GOP fell short of grabbing the Senate for the third straight election, especially since the odds of the GOP being able to gain control of the Senate in 2016 or 2020 look to be pretty low just based on the make up of the classes of Senators that would be up for re-election in those years. By the time the year is over, then, Republicans may end up regretting this lawsuit not just because it has no legal merit, but because it ended up being a political loser.

FILED UNDER: 2014 Election, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. george says:

    Aren’t midterm elections always about getting out your own supporters without motivating the other side’s supporters?

    I guess the calculation the GOP makes here is whether the lawsuit motivates more Republican voters than Democrat voters. In fact, I suspect the decision is completely based on that, with very little of anything else (principle or law) involved.

  2. stonetools says:

    I’m hoping for poetic justice here, but frankly I doubt the voters are paying that such attention to this picayune stunt.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    The numbers favor the Repubs so overwhelmingly that it is hard to believe that anything will stop them from taking the Senate, at least for two years. But the meme may play out even harder for 2016. The Dems can make a convincing case that if Repubs win the Presidency, and keep the Senate and the House, not only will they continue their unbroken record of total inaction but they’ll spend the next four years investigating everything the Obama administration did and trying to bring criminal charges.

  4. Moosebreath says:


    “The Dems can make a convincing case that if Repubs win the Presidency, and keep the Senate and the House, not only will they continue their unbroken record of total inaction”

    Umm no. If the Republicans control the Presidency, House and Senate, they will pass their wish list immediately, starting with the transfer of moneys to the upper class called the Ryan budget, and repealing Obamacare.

  5. Rob in CT says:

    Obviously, Democrats would love this if it happened, Doug. It would be a lovely combination of a good outcome (holding the Senate) and delicious shadefreude. Dunno how likely it is, and given how much I’d like to see it I’m not inclined to get my hopes up.

    I have to say, though, that there is a double-edged sword to it all. A persistent theme has been GOP self-destruction. In other words, they’d be winning (or doing better) if only they avoided certain bone-headed things. That’s horrifying, really, to someone who thinks their agenda is obviously awful. I can take some comfort in the idea that their boneheaded mistakes stem directly from underlying flaws in their ideology (meaning they’re not random once-off screwups but rather an unavoidable consequence of believing nonsense on a variety of subjects), but it’s rather cold comfort.

  6. stonetools says:

    Between Hobby Lobby, immigration, lawsuit/impeachment talk , and Ferguson, there is now ample reason for the “Obama electorate” to go to the polls en masse this year. Let’s hope Democratic organizers get the word (and the vote) out.

  7. Constitution Believer says:

    The liberals are banking on Obama being sued and impeached. With more Democrats then Republicans and more Rino”s then Dino’s, well just think back to when Clinton was impeached. I think the Libs took the house then and kept it for quite a while.
    I hate to say this with me being a Republican but I truly believe based on the Liberal information I have been given and being a Liberal at one time that all this money the Koch brothers are dishing out, and the Dems not liking the Reps are doing what they usually do, I really think, and I hope I a wrong, the Libs are going to take over the House, retain the Senate and in 2016 the Whitehouse.

  8. Constitution Believer says:

    @Rob in CT: Can you elaborate on the “bone-headed”” items you are referring to? I would love to know them.

  9. Constitution Believer says:

    @Moosebreath: Hmm, isn’t that what the Liberals did in 2008 and 2012?
    So with that your point is WHAT?

  10. Constitution Believer says:

    @george: Hmm, isnt that just what Oblunder has done in the past?
    I can remember when he out spent McCain by millions in 2008, I can also remember he out spent Romney by millions in 2012. And in the past 5 going on 6 years has he not out spent to the point that we are now hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. Has he NOT raised the debt ceiling to the point that when he talks trillions of dollars is like you and I talking of pennies, nickles or dimes?
    Hell even the experts say he has been the only president that has spent more then he has brought in….
    I see it this way if the Liberal Left are that damn dumb then let them have what they want hell the GOP are getting used to “ITS THE FAULT OF THE REPUBLICANS”

  11. al-Ameda says:

    @Constitution Believer:

    Hmm, isnt that just what Oblunder has done in the past?

    Look, Republicans want to impeach Obama – this is not exactly classified information, and Democrats would be foolish to NOT use this possibility as motivation to ramp up turnout. It’s kind of Electoral Politics 101.


    @MarkedMan: The only thing that will keep the GOP from taking the senate is the GOP Establishment. The establishment trashed their base of voters in the McConnell, Cochran and Alexander primaries.
    In KY there is now a libertarian siphoning off the votes for Mitchy and you can bet he will loose as the voters there hate RINOs. Hopefully other Libertarians will enter the race and take votes away from the ‘safe’ RINO’s.

  13. Moosebreath says:

    @Constitution Believer:

    “Hmm, isn’t that what the Liberals did in 2008 and 2012?”

    Following the 2008 election, yes. Following 2012, no, as they did not control the House and could not get anything passed.

    “So with that your point is WHAT?”

    That, contrary to marked Man, whom I replied to, the Republicans will not “continue their unbroken record of total inaction”. Please try to keep up.

  14. george says:

    @Constitution Believer:

    Hmm, isnt that just what Oblunder has done in the past?

    I’d like to reply, but experience has shown that anyone who uses a grade six kind of name change (Oblunder, repugnicans etc) is, in fact, intellectually a sixth grader, so its not worth the effort. And yes, this too is truly something that some folks on both sides do.

    On the plus side, its considerate of you to show your level of understanding in the first sentence, so as not to waste anyone’s time reading the rest of what you say.