Senate Democrats are facing a tougher election in 2014 than in either 2010 or 2012. Remember, Republicans need to gain only six seats to fire Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader. Four Democratic incumbents are attempting to keep their seats in states won by Mitt Romney, and each of these four Senators voted for Obamacare — the ongoing bureaucratic nightmare and disaster.
Democrats also need to defend four open seats where the incumbent Democrat is retiring and an additional seat from which Montana Senator Baucus retired to become Obama’s Ambassador to China (this seat has been filled by newly appointed Democrat John Walsh.).
Midterm elections are often a reflection of the approval rating of the incumbent president and now President Obama stands at 42.8%. And elections in the 6th year of a President’s term are usually not good for the incumbent’s party. To make things even worse for Democrats, the issues of a weak economy and Obamacare make November look bleak for Harry Reid and his Senate Democratic cohorts.
States where Democrats are in trouble include:
- Alaska, Mark Begich,
Begich is in big trouble. He is trailing both major Republican candidates in recent polling and Alaskan anger regarding Obamacare is strong. Romney received 55% of the vote here in 2012 and this can be a pickup.
- Arkansas, Mark Pryor,
Pryor cannot be separated from Obama as he and his vote for Obamacare are inextricably linked. Conservative Victory Fund -endorsed GOP Congressman Tom Cotton has been building momentum and outraised the incumbent during the 4th quarter of 2013. Cotton served as a decorated combat veteran in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton can win this seat and we’ll have another conservative leader in the Senate. Romney won this state by more than 20%.
- Louisiana, Mary Landrieu,
Not only does Landrieu have to deal with a party headed by Obama,whose policies are diametrically opposed to those of the people of Louisiana), she also now has now deal with an underwater approval rating. Even Democratic pollsters are calling this race a “sheer tossup” — especially since Romney won the state by over 17%. Whether she likes it or not, she is directly tied to Obama and her vote for Obamacare.
- Michigan, Open Seat (liberal Democrat Carl Levin retiring)
GOP Governor Rick Snyder is polling very strong and should help the Republican nominee. Although Obama did particularly well here in 2012, the Republican Senate nominee, probably former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, can win with a good campaign. Polls show a Republican candidate for Senate has a really good shot.
- Montana, John Walsh,
Replacing Max Baucus, Obama’s new Ambassador to China, with Lt. Gov. John Walsh may not have been as clever a maneuver as Democrats had once hoped as he faces multiple sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits. He may not be tied to a vote for Obamacare, but questions of his ethics will make the voters of Montana wonder if he can be trusted. Romney received 55% of the vote and, with Walsh’s personal issues, Republicans can take this seat from him.
- North Carolina, Kay Hagan,
Hagan is doing everything she can to avoid being associated with Obama. She is even blaming outside money for her troubles in the hopes of rallying what little base she has left in the state. . North Carolina voters equate Kay Hagan with Obama and Obamacare…good luck hiding from her votes. This is a crowded primary with a few different options for conservative voters but a strong conservative can put this seat in the Republican column.
- South Dakota, being vacated by retiring Democrat Tim Johnson,
Maybe Johnson saw the writing on the wall as Romney cleared almost 58% of the vote in 2012. With his retirement announcement, South Dakota became a real pick-up opportunity for Republicans. A crowded HGOP primary could help Democratic chances, but if the right conservative is nominated, we’ll be looking at the new Republican Senator from South Dakota.
- West Virginia, being vacated by retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller,
War on coal anyone? This conservative Democratic state does not like the Obama administration very much and why should they? His E.P.A. is shutting down the coal industry, destroying thousand of jobs in the process. If GOP Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito runs a solid campaign, this seat will move to the Republican column. She may not be the strongest conservative, but would she vote to repeal Obamacare and slow down the E.P.A.? The answer is a resounding yes. Romney won this state by almost 30%.
And not only do Republicans have opportunities in the above 8 states, the environment created by liberal Democrat policies have given them opportunities in 4 more states that lean Democratic.
- Colorado, Mark Udall,
His vote for Obamacare may not spell doom for this senior Democrat,but the conservatives in Colorado could make this a tough reelection battle. He’s taking a different path than other Democrats in trouble, by doing everything he can to support Obamacare. While he points out what he thinks Obamacare is meant to do, he trashes the real cancellation numbers. Let’s face it, he’s polling below 50% (in the low 40s) and the right candidate can put this in the GOP win column.
- Iowa, being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin,
The American Heartland has been devastated by liberal policies and Iowa is no different. Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley is polling very well against all of the announced Republicans. However, these numbers are putting him in the mid to low 40% range. This seat can be won even with Braley’s early poll numbers.
- New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen,
This seat could change hands even though Shaheen is polling rather well, all things considered. Will former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown get into this race? Former NewHampshire GOP Senator Bob Smith is running in the primary as are several other candidates. This could be an interesting race.
- Virginia, Mark Warner,
While Republicans have not done very well statewide recently, the election could go better this November. If former RNC Chair Ed Guillespie can bring the fight home to Senator Mark Warner and if the Democratic brand is further tarnished, Gillespie can win. Gillespie needs to convince Virginians that Mark Warner does not vote the more moderate line that he often talks.
Ron Pearson is the Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Fund and former Chief of Staff of the late conservative hero and CVF founder Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook. He has also managed numerous House and Senate campaigns.
Trevor Smith, Ph.D. is the Political Analyst for CVF.