This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," April 5, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," President Obama takes a victory lap declaring the Affordable Care Act a success. But should Senate Democrats share his enthusiasm as the midterm elections approach?
Plus, a landmark Supreme Court ruling deals another blow to campaign finance limits. How it will affect big donors and political parties this November.
And with Middle East peace talks on the verge of collapse, we'll take a look at Secretary of State John Kerry's track record in the region.
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
President Obama took a victory lap Tuesday declaring his signature Affordable Care Act a success. That is, quote, "Here to stay." With more than seven million enrollees as of the March 31st deadline, Democrats were quick to jump on the White House announcement with New York's Chuck Schumer saying voters will reward ObamaCare supporters in the upcoming midterm elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: Come November, we are confident that our push to give the middle class a fair shot at a better life will prevail over the tired false attacks against the Affordable Care Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Just how confident should Democrats be?
Here with a look at this year's battle of control of the Senate, "Wall Street Journal" columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, Political Diary editor, Jason Riley; and OpinionJournal.com editor, James Taranto.
So, Jason, Chuck Schumer says ObamaCare is now a net-plus. How do you see that?
JASON RILEY, POLITICAL DIARY EDITOR: He sounds like a Senator from a blue state who is not up for election this year, Paul. I think he should talk to some of his colleagues. Obviously, he's overselling these numbers. We don't know. They could be very hollow numbers.
But Senators from red states are still running away from this law. Democrats from red states who are up for re-election are still running away from this law. It's polling poorly.
We also have last month the special House election in Florida.
RILEY: Where a Republican candidate ran on ObamaCare and pretty much only ObamaCare, and did quite well. So, no, I don't think the tables have been turned here.
GIGOT: Let's look at the Senate field. We've got two Republican seats up, competitive, Georgia and Kentucky. They could presumably lose either one of those. We've got 12 Democratic seats that are in some way competitive. We've got open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, where the Republicans are now leading and are expected to be pick-ups. We've got two other open seats, Iowa and Michigan, where they seem to be competitive. We've got other states, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia and Arkansas, where there are incumbents, Democrats running. That is a pretty open field for Republicans. What are their chances of picking up the six seats they need to get control?
JAMES TARANTO, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM EDITOR: I think their chances are very good because this is the most Republican Senate class in terms of which states are up. It's also a class in which a lot of Democrats won six years ago. I think the crucial figure here is, of those 12 Democrat states that are competitive, seven of them were carried by Mitt Romney in 2012.
TARANTO: So all that the Republicans have to do is win the states Mitt Romney carried in 2012. And that's enough to give them a majority.
GIGOT: But defeating, Dan, an incumbent Senator is hard.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: It is.
GIGOT: It's very difficult. They've got the money, the name recognition. It really doesn't happen that often.
HENNINGER: Well, notwithstanding Chuck Schumer's ideas about ObamaCare. The downdraft on the Democratic Party is considerable. There is ObamaCare. There's the fact that the president's approval rating is about 42 percent. His rating on his handling of the economy and foreign policy is below 40 percent. And things like foreign policy, Ukraine, the Middle East, the economy -- we just had bad -- had normal unemployment figures, 6.7 percent this week -- and ObamaCare are all net negatives for the Democratic Party. I think if these Republicans play their cards right, they should be able to win the Senate back.
GIGOT: Are there Democrats run on ObamaCare really? Because that's not what I hear, Jason.
I hear them running on a minimum wage. They're running on unemployment benefits. They're running against Paul Ryan's budget.
RILEY: Pocketbook issues. But it's not really helping, I think. They can't get away from ObamaCare. That's their problem.
What is interesting about that map that you just laid out is that it's been expanding for Republicans. Those blue states, Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, they weren't on anyone's radar screen a few months ago.
RILEY: Republicans have been fielding candidates in these blue states. They are doing a better job than they've done in previous cycles. There was a Tea Party candidate in Colorado, stepped aside for a more viable Republican candidate. That race is now in play. Republicans have been playing this smart. As a result, the map for them has been expanding.
GIGOT: That phrase, "Republicans have been playing this very smart," is not one that's occurred to me in recent election cycles.
They had -- people talked about it 2010 and 2012. They also should have picked up the Senate. Yet, they blew it in the end because they nominated candidates who had significant vulnerabilities and a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot.
What are the risks for Republicans this time?
TARANTO: I think those are exactly it. You have to have a decent candidate in order to have a good chance, especially --
GIGOT: And how is that going so far?