Could House lawsuit against Obama cost GOP the Senate?

House Republicans are planning to sue President Obama. It's thought that the move could motivate conservatives to vote this fall. But polls suggest it could backfire.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
Will Harry Reid (D) be the Senate majority leader next year? The House lawsuit against President Obama could play a role.

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 (D) or Mitch McConnell (R). 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 Mr. 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 makeup of the classes of senators that would be up for reelection 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.

Doug Mataconis appears on the Outside the Beltway blog at 

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