GOP Midterm Chances Good but Not Guaranteed
This year the Republicans plan to take back the Senate, and they may be able to do that thanks to the public backlash aganist Obamacare.
But experts say they also face some tough obstacles on the road ahead.
It's the time for New Year's resolutions and number one for Republicans is turning around the party in time for November's midterm elections.
Problems with Obamacare could help them keep the House and win control of the Senate,
unless internal bickering becomes their downfall.
Fireworks celebrate the new year but for Republicans, November could mark a new beginning.
The reason? They have a chance to win control of the Senate and rule Capitol Hill.
They see Obamacare as their ace in the hole and the chairman of the Republican National Committee told CBN News they will use it every chance they get.
"Politically, the answer is let Obamacare go through, we'll tattoo it to their foreheads and beat them in 2014. The problem with the political answer is that it's a painful thing for a lot of people," Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, said.
That pain can be felt across the country. In Cooperstown North Dakota, Brook Frederickson found out she couldn't keep her healthcare plan even though the president said she could.
"It was a lie. It was a lie. There's millions of Americans all over the country. Just turn on the news. It's really sad," she said.
And it's costing President Obama at the wrong time. His approval numbers are down to 43 percent. That's even lower than George W. Bush who sat at 47% after five years of his presidency.
It could drop even further if the president and democrats don't quickly resolve Obamacare issues.
Republicans need six seats to control the Senate and they go after moderate Democrats who supported Obamacare.
"I think it's a political liability for any Democrat that voted for it. Most Senate Democrats, it passed by a one vote margin so every single one of them that voted for it cast the decided vote," Sen. John Thune, R-SD, said.
Senator Mary Landrieu who casted the deciding vote for Obamacare said, "If I had to vote for the bill again, I would vote for it tomorrow."
Yet the strategy for vulnerable Democrats? Keep your distance from the president.
Senator Landrieu said President Obama needs to stick to his word.
But Senate Democrats won't be the only ones fighting for their political survival. On the Republican side, some long time GOP establishment Senators will get challenges from Tea Party backed candidates.
It's already happening at the top where Tea Party conservative Matt Bevin is going after Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
Others like Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn face primary fight as well. This also marks the other political theme of 2014: The Tea Party vs. The Establishment.
The Tea Party wants strong consitutional conservatives in office.
The old guard wants to grow their numbers even if candidates don't toe the conservative line.
This debate played out in 2012 after some Tea Party primary winners faltered and then received the blame for costing Republicans control of the Senate.
"We let races slip out of our hands and we really let the Senate majority slip away from us over these last two cycles. That's something that all of us ought to agree that's something we should never allow to happen," Steven Law, CEO of American Crossroads, said.
But that won't be easy. Special interest groups from both sides of the spectrum are already arming for the fight.
Sen. John McCain, R-Az, told CBN News all this bickering has to stop, "We've all got to work together, hash out our differences but our adversary is the Democrat party not the Republican Party," McCain said.
"Let the Republican Primary voters decide who our candidates are going to be rather than pouring money in attack ads against Republicans raised from Republicans. It doesn't make any sense," he continued.
That leaves Senate control in doubt while in the House Republicans should still be in charge after the midterm elections.
That doesn't mean an easy road for House Speaker John Boehner. He faces a determined Tea Party Caucus, and outside groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action.
"I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be, and frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility," Boehner said.
Talk radio host Mark Levin believes a fight over the true meaning of conservatism is at hand.
"They need to embrace and re-acquaint themselves with conservative principles, constitutional republicanism and make the case over and over and over again and at every angle fight for it. At every turn fight for it," Levin said.
So 2014 begins with a fireworks show that will only get hotter as the elections get closer.