Seven key dates in the seven months leading up to the midterms
April 4th, 2014
12:26 PM ET
4 months ago

Seven key dates in the seven months leading up to the midterms

Washington (CNN) - We're seven months to the day before Election Day 2014.

Up for grabs in November's midterms is control of the U.S. Senate, where the Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the chamber, but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those seats in red or purple states.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats this November to win back control of the Republican-led House, a feat political handicappers say is unlikely in part due to the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts.

And don't forget the battle in the states, where three dozen governorships are at stake. The GOP is defending 22 of the 36 seats up for grabs in November.

Key races to watch in 2014

Here are seven important dates between now and November that could impact the midterm elections:

Mid-April – Obamacare numbers – The Department of Health and Human Services will release its last enrollment report for the Affordable Care Act's first year, including key demographic information.

The key number that will affect the political arguments over Obamacare will be the percentage of younger people who have signed up for health insurance through the federal and state exchanges. Republicans, who oppose the federal health care law, are attempting to frame the midterms as a referendum on the sweeping measure, which is President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

May 20 – Kentucky and Georgia primaries – Seven of the 12 Republican senators running for re-election this year did face, or still are facing, primary challenges from the right. The most high-profile of that group is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He's being challenged by Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who enjoys the backing of some tea party groups and other conservative organizations.

McConnell's considered the overwhelming favorite to win the primary, but his margin of victory may tell us a lot about his prospects in the general election, where he'll face off against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Georgia is one of five other states holding primaries on May 20. All eyes are on the GOP battle to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Along with Kentucky, Georgia is the only other state where Democrats right now hope to go on the offense in the battle for Senate.

There are five major candidates fighting for the GOP nomination, and if one of the more conservative contenders wins, Democrats think their candidate, Michelle Nunn (daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn), may have a good shot at winning the seat. If there's no outright winner on primary day, a runoff for Georgia's GOP Senate nomination will be held on July 22.

June 3 – Mississippi and Iowa primaries – Of the Republican senators facing primary challenges, Thad Cochran is the most threatened. The six-term senator from Mississippi is being challenged by state lawmaker Chris McDaniel, who enjoys strong backing from conservative groups and tea party activists.

And last month, McDaniel landed the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee still carries a lot of pull with many on the right. If McDaniel wins, it could be one of the few victories this year for the grassroots in their on-going battle with the party establishment.

"McDaniel has the best chance of any anti-establishment Senate hopeful to knock off an incumbent, and the defeat of Thad Cochran would send shock waves through both the national media and the Republican Party", said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report

Iowa is one of six other states that holds primaries on June 3. Several GOP candidates are vying for their party's Senate nomination in the race for the seat of retiring five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

The outcome of Iowa's Republican primary could determine how good a chance the GOP has in November against Rep. Bruce Braley, who hopes to keep the seat in Democratic hands.

Late June – All eyes will be on the Supreme Court as it likely issues what may be a major ruling on the Affordable Care Act. The justices will rule on a lawsuit brought against the federal government by the family-owned arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, over a requirement under the health care law that certain for-profit corporations provide contraception coverage to their workers.

At issue is whether secular, private corporations can claim a religious exemption from federal laws. There's a companion appeal from Conestoga Wood Specialties, owed by a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania.

The rulings in these cases could clarify whether some businesses have a religious liberty right, or whether such constitutional protections apply only to individuals. The rulings will also put Obamacare right back in the political spotlight, giving either Democrats or Republicans some bragging rights.

June 30 – The last day June is also the last day of the second quarter of fundraising. Starting July 1, campaigns and party committees begin reporting their cash hauls to the Federal Election Commission (the filings are due by July 15) and in many cases publicize their fundraising figures in the media. The numbers will be scrutinized, as campaign cash is one of the key indicators of a candidate's or party's strength.

Late summer/early fall – Some states begin to announce how much premiums will rise in 2015 for health insurance for policies acquired through the Affordable Care Act. Even though health insurance premiums tend to rise every year, big jumps in premiums could be damaging for Democrats defending the health care law.

October 3 - The Labor Department releases the September unemployment report, the final jobs numbers before midterm elections. While Obamacare is an important issue in the 2014 contests, the economy remains the top issue on the minds of American voters, and the top economic concern remains jobs.

Just as the final jobs report before the 2012 presidential election was in the spotlight, this report will also face a lot of scrutiny.

CNN White House Producer Adam Aigner-Treworgy and CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears contributed to this report


Filed under: 2014
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    ----All go straight democratic ticket. Thus the story ended.

    April 4, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Dems in PA

    Nobody (the American public) will be paying attention before early fall.

    Obama will not let this happen; it will be delayed: the Late summer-early fall announce on premiums going up for 2015 on Democratic Party Health Care.

    This will be a LIE as it always is: October 3 – The Labor Department releases the September unemployment report.

    April 4, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Advocate

    Think Progress reports: "Loss Of Unemployment Benefits Has Now Cost Almost $5 Billion As Congress Dithers"

    April 4, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Denise

    Yes, it's all a big lie dittoheads! Obama is out to destroy America!

    April 4, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. just saying

    Advocate
    Think Progress reports: "Loss Of Unemployment Benefits Has Now Cost Almost $5 Billion As Congress Dithers"
    --

    only in the clueless upside down world of the progressives does not spending money cost $5 billion!!
    talk about voodoo economics!!

    April 4, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Donna

    The Democrat Grand Pubbah of Election Predictions Nate Silver projects the odds of the Republicans taking the Senate is 60%-40%. He predicts they will take 6 setas, plus or minus 5 seats. The Democrats losing 11 Senate seats sure sounds great to me. Good bye dirty stinking do nothing obstructionist Harry Reid.

    April 4, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Advocate

    Think Progress reports: "Loss Of Unemployment Benefits Has Now Cost Almost $5 Billion As Congress Dithers"
    ----------------------–
    More than four million people will be adversely affected by year's end. Guess who they should vote for.

    April 4, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. Smitty

    Its been one lie after another on top of ineptness for this admin and the dems. The failures from Obumbles and the dems are far too many to list, failure on all fronts. If you like being a leech keep voting dem!!!!

    April 4, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "The unemployment rate began to deteriate after the democrats took congress the last 2 years of the Bush Admin."

    LOL. Correlation =/= causation. Anyone trying to claim that the Dems taking over Congress in 2007 was in any way, shape or form a cause of unemployment skyrocketing is an imbecile. Plain and simple. It's just completely and utterly stupid-talk and shows a gross failure of rational, cogent thought and a ridiculous absence of information about the economic factors that were already in play and building over the several years prior to 2007. Your attempt to relate the two things causally is, in short, NONSENSE.

    April 4, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. smith

    Hyping the masses for nothing. GOP will keep the house and the Dems will keep the senate.

    April 4, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. not normal

    Insurance companies, with help from the gop and Koch brothers, will leak info suggesting your insurance will go up unbelievably high, right before elections , but if they don't win, and repeal the aca, insurance companies will be sending out big rebates.

    April 4, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Think Progress reports: "Loss Of Unemployment Benefits Has Now Cost Almost $5 Billion As Congress Dithers"

    Oh, well, good thing the entirety of the GOP decided on November 5, 2008 decided they'd spend the next 4 years (and 4 more if they had to) spitting on their palms and "dithering" themselves silly. That might be something they consider politically profitable, but that $5B is a drop in the bucket of what they've cost us the past 6 years with their furious "dithering."

    April 4, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "only in the clueless upside down world of the progressives does not spending money cost $5 billion!!"

    Only in the clueless upside down world of conservatives does sending millions of people into poverty magically not destroy demand in the economy and cause GDP to shrink. And yes, the GOP/Teatroll refusal to extend unemployment benefits has caused increased poverty. Sorry pal, but you guys own this one as well, and the expert economists aren't wrong just because they're saying something you don't want to hear.

    April 4, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Luc

    Even if the GOP take over the Senate nothing will get done anyway until the 2016 election is over. Obama will never forget what the GOP have done to him over the last 6 years. Obama will Vito the bills when they come across his desk.

    April 4, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Me
    Lynda/Minnesota

    "But it’s a harsh truth of politics that they unfairly take the blame when things go bad and unfairly get credit when things go well."

    Oh, dear. While this president has been faulted for everything from the 2007 recession
    __________________________
    I have not ONCE (and I read the ticker daily) seen someone blame Obama for the recession happening they only blame him (and fittingly) for NOT bringing us out of it!! Yet another lie from the gang on here!
    -------------–

    Oh dear me. You DO get carried away time and again with your rants against certain others. Psst: take it up with someone who really cares what you think. That would not be me.

    April 4, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Tampa Tim

    Look at the damage republicans have caused our country with their wars, government shutdown, credit downgrades, Great Recession of 2008, record job loss. And the American people want more of their insanity?

    April 4, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    just saying

    Advocate
    Think Progress reports: "Loss Of Unemployment Benefits Has Now Cost Almost $5 Billion As Congress Dithers"
    -

    only in the clueless upside down world of the progressives does not spending money cost $5 billion!!
    talk about voodoo economics!!
    --------------------------------
    Hasn't it ever occurred to you that if the government didn't spend money then there wouldn't be an economy? Why else do you think the economy seemed so strong during the early period of GWB's administration? He spread money around like wild fire. He spent it, and then he spent even more of it. He increased annual spending, on average, 7-9% every year that he signed a budget into law.

    April 4, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    I think you wingnuts are forgetting the successes of President Obama, to numerous to list, while the only success of the last republican in the White House was 'shoe ducking.'

    April 4, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Silence DoGood

    The middle-of-the-road voters really needs to consider whether they want to continue Progress with progressives, or go down the slippery slope towards Corporate Theocracy and control of our very lives. Think: Would the Founders of this country want to have the country run by a priesthood and a few rich folks?

    “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
    ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814

    April 4, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Luc

    The more tea baggers that beat other republicans in the 2014 primaries all the better. This will guarantee dems. win 2016, 2020, and so on and so on. The tea party will never win POTUS being the majority of the GOP party ever. The insurance companies and Koch brothers can use scare tactics all they want before election it doesn't matter any bill has to cross the desk of the POTUS to pass which is surely not run by the GOP. and won't be for years. They already tried scare tactic already look where it got them 2nd place in the 2012 election. Good luck with that. There are laws in the ACA that prevents insurance companies from doing just that. Public has listened to the Teabaggers and GOP since the ACA came into law and 7,000,000 American didn't have a problem getting health care for there families. Must be way more expensive. LOL

    April 4, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. Tampa Tim

    Did the republicans read the right leaning Rassmussen Daily Tracking Poll today? Obama approval rating at 50% and in another poll congress approval at 12%. Wingnuts will always have comfort in the fact that the Kochs and Fox will be standing up for domestic terrorism.

    April 4, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. Denise

    Koch brothers, two white, angry, bitter old men need to get out of the business of investing in elections and stick to oil. Their return last time around was terrible!

    April 4, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Denise

    Why do tea party folks vote Republican? It's not like they are well educated or make alot of money. They're from some of the poorest red states!

    April 4, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Smitty

    Its been one lie after another on top of ineptness for this admin and the dems. The failures from Obumbles and the dems are far too many to list, failure on all fronts. If you like being a leech keep voting dem!!!!
    -----------------------------------
    One measure of failure is campaign against the ACA for four years, passing 55 House bills to repeal the ACA over four years, shut down the government, downgrade the nation's credit, and still not even come close to repealing it.

    April 4, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Silence DoGood

    @Luc
    The more tea baggers that beat other republicans in the 2014 primaries all the better. This will guarantee dems. win 2016, 2020, and so on and so on.
    --------–
    I was reading a news item the other day that this has already happened in a few cases (will have to look up the races). The Tea Party extremist had booted out a moderate Republican, only to lose overall to a moderate Democrat. Where do I send a donation to the purist and whitest of the Tea Party???

    April 4, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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