You would never know it by reading the rock-and-roll press: metal band AC/DC has sold more records in the U.S. than Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen. More than 200 million albums world-wide and trail only the Beatles as the second best selling act EVER. “Back In Black” is the second best-selling album in history – beaten only by The King of Pop’s “Thriller.” Staying power? Last year’s “Black Ice,” was the second best selling album IN THE WORLD.
Like congressional Republicans of late, the band did all this while being virtually ignored by the music press. They’ve never won a Grammy or MTV Music Award and have only been on the cover of Rolling Stone twice in 35 years. (Read more “Why AC/DC Matters.”).
Republicans should take solace and Democratic majorities in Congress take heed: it’s the numbers that decide their fate and not media Obamalove or Nobel Prize committees.
Here are five numbers that will decide the Democratic Party’s fate much more than a doting press corps.
#1. The mood of the country. When they are angry, the incumbent party suffers. Our most recent Public Opinion Strategies national survey showed only 38% believe the country is on the right track. Two recent cataclysmic reference points: in October of ‘94, this number was 27%; in ‘06 it was 29%.
#2. The president’s job approval. President Obama’s job approval has dropped from 63% measured in April to 51% measured in early September. When a president’s job approval drops below 50%, his party loses a historical average of 41 seats in the House.
#3. The unemployment rate. It’s currently 9.8%. The last midterms when the unemployment rate was close to this high was 1982 and Ronald Reagan’s party lost 26 seats in the House. AC/DC front man Brian Johnson got it right: Money DOES talk.
#4. The Consumer Confidence Index. When the CCI has been in the lower 90s, big changes have occurred (the 1978, 1982, 1994 and 2006 midterms). It is 53.1 now.
#5. The RELATIVE images of the two parties. Check out the NBC News/Wall Street Journal surveys. In 2002, the GOP had a net +6 advantage over the Democratic Party going into election day and the Democrats lost seven seats in the House. In ‘06, the GOP was -17 score and lost 30 seats; it carried a similar score (-20) into ‘08 and lost 24 more. Ouch: the GOP deficit sunk to -46% in December ‘08 AFTER election day. Clawing its way back, the GOP deficit shrunk to -26 by May and is now at -17.