Republicans will recapture the U.S. Senate in November 2014
This was made official this week by statistics and probability guru Nate Silver who called the 2012 Presidential election months before actual voting.
Common sense confirms Mr. Silver’s prediction.
Today, there are 45 Republican Senators and the GOP needs a net gain of six seats to win control of the 114th Congress in January 2015. But winning a bare majority in 2014 is not enough. Republicans need to pick up enough seats in 2014 to ensure they have 51 or more Senators after the 2016 election where Republicans will defend potentially vulnerable Senate seats won in the GOP landslide year of 2010.
If Republicans win six seats they will control the House and Senate for two years but still face the Obama veto for both years. But if they capture the nine seats needed to be comfortable that GOP control of congress would continue in 2017 and 2018 then, if they are joined by a Republican President after the 2016 election, they can begin undoing much of the damage of the past eight years and enact the Ryan budget plan that begins the U-turn away from our present path to socialism. That is winning.
Is this possible? Probable?
First, the very good news. There are seven Senate seats held right now by Democrats that will likely fall to Republican challengers. Three of these are in West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota where Democrats have failed to field strong candidates in states that went for Mitt Romney over Obama by 62-36%, 55-42%, and 58-40% respectively. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will almost certainly replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia. Congressman Steve Daines will take the seat of Max Baucus who left to be the ambassador to China. And Former Governor Mike Rounds will replace retiring Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota.
The next four seats likely to fall to the GOP are North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alaska. All have faux moderates running for re-election. But this time they carry the boat anchor of their lockstep votes with Obama for Obamacare and much of his transparently left agenda. These states were carried by Romney by margins respectively of 50-48%, 58-41%, 61-37%, and 55-41%. In each state the GOP is poised to nominate a strong contender.
Those seven are enough to capture the Senate in 2014. But the unpopularity of Obama, Obamacare and the lousy “recovery” have expanded the opportunities for GOP wins.
MICHIGAN: This state has not elected a Republican Senator since 1994, but former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) is now neck and neck in polls vs. Congressman Gary Peters (D). Politics in Michigan has changed. Detroit has fallen in population from two million to 800,000. There is now a GOP governor, Rick Snyder, and a Republican House and Senate. Michigan passed a Right to Work Law in 2012. This is not your father’s Michigan.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Republicans in the Granite State were delighted to learn that former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has moved back to his native state (Daniel Webster made this move the other way first elected in New Hampshire and then Massachusetts.) This seat once viewed as safely in Democrat hands is a jump ball.
IOWA: There are too many Republicans in the primary to know who will contest for the Senate seat in November, but the almost certain Democrat nominee Bruce Braley does not poll well and recently was caught on film insulting Republican Senator Chuck Grassley while addressing a group of trial lawyer/donors in what he thought was a private meeting out of state. Braley nastily mocked Senator Grassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” There are significantly more farmers than Harvard educated lawyers in Iowa. Iowa is a possible GOP pick up heavily dependent on the quality of the Republican emerging from the primary.
COLORADO: Once feared a red state lost to the Democrats, Colorado Republicans were cheered when their first pick for the race Cory Gardner joined the fray this past month. Sen. Mark Udall (D) is viewed as vulnerable but other potential challengers were viewed as weak.
VIRGINIA: Incumbent Democrat Mark Warner has positioned himself as a “moderate” in the Old Dominion and was viewed as a sure winner in this now purple state but the entrance of Ed Gillespie, former Dick Armey staffer, former RNC chair, Bush White House advisor and super lobbyist makes this a possible pickup for the GOP. Gillespie has already united the fractious Virginia Republican party and is attracting talent and financial support nationwide.
Even in less friendly states such as Oregon and Minnesota, there is a real opportunity for the right Republican candidate to get swept up in a wave election. There are three major reasons for Republican optimism:
Midterm election voters are generally moreconservative, Obamano longer possesses that strong personal appeal to encourage his base to turn out in off years, and Obamacare is hugely unpopular with conservatives, Republicans, and independents. Additionally, both Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken won their initial elections with under 50% of the vote under-performing the President by are relatively substantial margin. While Merkley and Franken came prepared to fight this election with large war chests, neither candidate can truly distance themselves from Obamacare. You can guarantee that Republicans will remind voters exactly which party is responsible for the current state of the economy and the country.
The other good news for Republicans is that they only have 13 Republican Senate seats to defend this November and only two are conceivably at risk. The first is Georgia, where former Democrat Senator Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle will be the Democrat nominee. Her last name is giving her some undeserved moderate credentials and amazingly Republican endorsements from former Senator John Warner of Virginia and former Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana both of whom were friends of former Senator Sam Nunn. There are quite a few candidates running for the GOP nomination which, certainly before Ms. Nunn’s appearance was viewed as a GOP lock, but Georgia is a runoff state so the highest two vote getters will stand against each other guaranteeing a stronger Republican candidate and avoiding a weak candidate winning with a plurality.
Republicans are also watching Kentucky carefully. There Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is running for his sixth term. He is being primaried by a local businessman. Polling says McConnell will win the primary handily—he has strong support from Senator Rand Paul—but one notes that the Democrat opponent in the general is Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose name is well known in Kentucky, still a swing state. That said, McConnell is a fierce competitor and fundraiser and should win in November.
Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. Follow him on Twitter at @GroverNorquist.