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A strong clue about which party will prevail

Jack Kelly

By Jack Kelly

Published Sept. 1, 2014

 A strong clue about which party will prevail
Labor Day is the traditional kickoff date for general election campaigns. Many in the news media speculate about which issue will be most important in the midterm elections.

"The biggest challenge of all we face right now is climate change," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech Aug. 13 at the East-West Center in Honolulu.

Most Americans don't agree. Only about 40 percent of us think "climate change" is a serious problem, according to polls by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in August, Gallup in April and Pew in January. It ranked 14th among 15 issues polled by Gallup in March.

Perhaps Americans don't share Secretary Kerry's concern because we've noticed it isn't getting warmer. Through July, there's been no warming for 17 years, 10 months, according to measurements taken by weather satellites in the lower troposphere.

A cooling trend began in 2012, the RSS data indicate. Since January, 2005, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began collecting data from its U.S. Climate Reference Network, temperatures have declined 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit).

In most of America, this year has been the coldest since the federal government began keeping temperature records in 1871. Leaves around Pittsburgh already are changing color. There was frost in northern Wisconsin Aug. 14.

With so little evidence for warming, and so much chaos spreading across the planet, Secretary Kerry's priorities raise "serious questions about his common sense, judgment and leadership," said the gobsmacked editors of Investors Business Daily.

The Republican War on Women" played a big role in Democrat victories in 2012, but isn't likely to sway many votes in 2014. It's been polling so badly recently Democrats are thinking of retiring the meme.

Nor will the outcome of the midterm elections hinge on whether the Washington Redskins professional football team is forced to change its name, which, Democrats say, is offensive to Native Americans. But the name doesn't offend them, said 90 percent of 768 Native Americans polled by Annenberg. The Redskins shouldn't be required to change it, said 79 percent of respondents in an AP poll in April.

The (libertarian billionaire) Koch brothers are a threat to democracy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, has charged repeatedly. But despite millions of dollars Democrats have spent on ads attacking the Kochs, more people dislike Sen. Reid than dislike them.

The issue Americans cared about most often in elections past is the state of the economy, especially when times are tough. The average household lost a third of its net worth between 2003 and 2013, according to a study by the Russell Sage Foundation.

Illegal immigration was the number one concern in a Gallup poll July 16. In a Reuters-Ipsos survey Aug. 7, 70 percent of respondents said illegal immigrants "threaten traditional U.S. beliefs and customs; 63 percent said they impose a burden on the economy.

The last time foreign policy was the dominant issue was in the 2006 midterms, when dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq was at its height.

The pre-eminent issue in the 2010 midterms was Obamacare. Since implementation began last October, concern about Obamacare has risen substantially, but has been overshadowed by all the other things going sour lately.

It's too early to tell which issue will be number one this fall. The economy is the safest bet. But if President Obama issues an executive order granting legal status to millions more illegals, illegal immigration could forge ahead.

If things really go to Hell in the Middle East — and/or large numbers of American troops return to Iraq — foreign policy could rise to the top.

The dominant issue might turn out to be one we're not talking about yet.

In that Gallup poll in March, the only issue ranked lower than climate change was "race relations." Given what's been going on in Ferguson, Missouri, that's bound to change.

We may not know yet which issue will be most important in the midterm elections, but we have a strong clue about which party will prevail.

Republicans are talking about the economy, illegal immigration, foreign policy and Obamacare.

Democrats are talking about climate change, the "Republican war on women," the Koch brothers, the Washington Redskins.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration.

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