GOP Claims High Ground in 2014 Battle for the Senate

It's shaping up to be an unpleasant 2014 for Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

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JIM LO SCALZO / EPA

Democratic Senate Majority Leader from Nevada Harry Reid speaks to the media at his weekly press briefing in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 18, 2013

It’s shaping up to be an unpleasant 2014 for Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

The President’s party already faced a difficult midterm election map when former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer ignored the pleas of national Democrats and decided to sit out the race. Saturday’s announcement that Schweitzer wouldn’t run to replace retiring Max Baucus virtually guarantees an easy pickup for Republicans and puts them substantially closer to a takeover of the upper chamber.

Lets do the numbers: Democrats currently control 54 seats in the Senate, counting two independents that reliably vote with them, while Republicans have 46 seats. After October’s New Jersey special election, which Newark Mayor Cory Booker will likely win, that margin will almost certainly revert to 55-45.

With Vice President Biden serving as the tie-breaking vote, Republicans need a net swing of six seats to regain the majority in 2014.

(MORE: Big and Early: 2014 Campaign Ad Landscape at 489 Days Out)

That sounds like a lot, but it isn’t as hard as it appears. Democratic seats in South Dakota and West Virginia held by Senator Tim Johnson and Senator Jay Rockefeller appear certain to swing to the GOP. Republicans need to win three of four remaining competitive states with vulnerable incumbents — Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Alaska — to take the Senate. President Barack Obama lost all four states in 2012.

National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brad Dayspring called Schweitzer’s decision a “sea-change moment” for Republicans, putting victory in sight. Republicans have yet to identify candidates in the four target states, and both the 2010 and 2012 cycles proved that Republican primaries can be self-defeating to the party’s general election chances. Democrats are preparing to pounce on every Republican verbal misfire, much as they did with Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock last year.

Though their individual poll numbers are lacking, the Democratic incumbents have all reported strong fundraising totals. (And in head-to-head match-ups, Democrats still lead against more unknown Republican challengers.) Democrats admit they have a tough map to defend, but believe their incumbents can more than withstand the Republican challengers as they fight to expand the map into Kentucky and Georgia.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will face Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, though he is heavily favored. Democrats are hoping to entice Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, into the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.

(MORE: How the Republicans Can Take Back the Senate in 2014)

“Their math is very difficult,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director Matt Canter of Republicans. “Not only do they have to beat three to four incumbents, but they also have to hold Georgia and Kentucky. So we’re very excited about 2014.”

Even the confidence with which many top Democrats have spoken of retaining the Senate has waned in recent days. On Tuesday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid backed off a threat to utilize the so-called nuclear option to curtail the filibuster after weeks of escalating rhetoric. One reason may have been that Democrats knew they could soon find themselves in the minority instead of the majority, and thus becoming the victim, instead of the beneficiary, of Reid’s threatened reforms.

National Republicans, for their part, are setting their sights on New Hampshire, where they hope former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown jumps across state lines and runs, as well as Iowa. And while Senator Mike Enzi’s announcement that he will seek re-election next year has set up a primary fight in Wyoming with former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney, Republicans are certain to hold the seat.

“The fact that Democrats are choosing to divert money away from endangered incumbents like Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan and Mark Begich to long-shot, novice candidates like Alison Lundergan Grimes shows just how panicked they are about losing Chuck Schumer’s majority,” said Dayspring.

MORE: GOP Fights to Rebrand the Party of No

77 comments
spiro.antzoulatos
spiro.antzoulatos

LOL

Republicans have no high ground to claim. 

They are a bottomless pit and represent the worst in America today. 

If you vote for them you are complicit in their efforts against Democracy, voting, minorities, women, children, the poor and working class Americans. 

Wake up ye Old Confederacy and stop being an enabling tool of plunder for the 1%

mydads1st
mydads1st

In Kentucky Ditch Mitch McConnell is vulnerable with Matt Bevin creating waves while Alison Lundergan Grimes polling even. Cory Booker will likely win New Jersey. Mark Pryor could take Arkansas if all the people vote. There must be a concerted effort for students who were set aside when the Senate went on hiatus, women who continue to be gthe target of TEA-Republican authoritarian rules, blacks who still believe Bill Clinton was the best president, Hispanics and Latinos who have been getting the shaft since the "Bracero Act" of 1942 between the US and Mexico and other people of color and others get registered to vote, vote, get out the vote in every election going forward. With everyone voting real change can come about. The 2014 Mid-term is a-coming! As is 2016, and 2018! V.O.T.E.(Vote Out The Encumberance)

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

there is only one party in america. these meaningless elections, posturing and threats, are bread and circuses.

the monied class rules, now, and through all human history. they are everywhere, and own everyone and everything. we all work for them, live at their commands and believe what they need us to.

there may be a planet somewhere else with a different kind of life, but on Earth, this is how it is. you can fight it all you want, but you will never make Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid into jesus christ.

DeanSchechinger
DeanSchechinger

The Democrats are using meta data from Obama and can get out the vote everywhere. Meanwhile, Republicans are going door to door to get out the vote. And we haven't yet heard how a woman's body just shuts down during a rape or that the Earth was created in 6,000 years so i don't think the Elephants will roll over on the Donkeys in the Senate races.

senor100
senor100

On Tuesday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid backed off a threat to utilize the so-called nuclear option to curtail the filibuster after weeks of escalating rhetoric. One reason may have been that Democrats knew they could soon find themselves in the minority instead of the majority, and thus becoming the victim, instead of the beneficiary, of Reid’s threatened reforms.

Reid backed off beause he didn't have to go nuclear.  The Republicans gave up without a fight.



jschmidt
jschmidt

If the media had done their job and vetted the lightweight amateur in the WH, we might not be in the mess we are in. No they covered up everything they could. So liberals what were his college grades?

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

THE REPUVBLICANS WIN AND CONTROL THE SENATE AND THE CONGRESS..........PUTTING AN END......TO THE OBAMA COMMUJNIST DICTATORIAL MOSLEM REGIME.......IF THE REPUBLICANS HAVE THE COJONES.....

OH GOD!!!!!!!!!!! MAKE IT SO......SO THE COUNTRY WILL PROSPER AND THE PEOPLE WILL LIVE IN BETTER HARMONY......

VALENTINE......COMEDIAN....LOL

KennethGlennKoons
KennethGlennKoons

The Senate is in sway and if the GOP can support the best candidate, right or center right, they might win not only 6 but 7 seats.  NC is in play in spite of leftist media saying Hagen is way ahead. That was a PPP poll, a noted leftist poll. WVA and Capito can be a good gain. And note that the people here who complain about the trends, seem to be all female and calling Mitch a sourpuss when Reid stands by might be caused by blindness!  The Dakotas could be pick ups. The GOP has to field candidates in Blue states though they are very long shots. Why? Because without Obama on the ticket, the whites, TEAS, Evangelicals who were cowed from coming out by Obama's IRS pressure in 2012, might come out in force. One never knows as with NH or even Iowa.  Alaska should go Pub if if there is no warfare there as there was with  Miller and the female Pub who won.

MaryaliceAlexander
MaryaliceAlexander

Why would anyone in their right mind want the tea partiers to be in change of anything?  If everyone voting for the Senate seats are sane and reasonable, the Democrats will retain the Senate.  Harry Reid is no sunshine boy but Mitch McConnell is the biggest sour-puss to grace the senate stage in years.  Could somebody, anybody, unseat him, please.  I'd even be happy with another republican and that's a stretch for me.

VivianBennett-Cohan
VivianBennett-Cohan

Praying we Conservatives can take back the Senate and save America as we know it.

tonyv
tonyv

Obamacare chickens coming home to roost

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Of course, having 51 votes in the U S Senate isn't worth a warm bucket of spit unless McComnell would pull that "nuclear option".  The Democrats, if they held together, could stop the entire country from getting anything done but with the House as totally useless already, maybe it is time for both the House and Senate to go home and get out of the way and  then maybe, the bribes, er, contributions, would stop and they might even listed to those who actually elect them and not the moneyed folks that the SCOTUS have set up to run the country.  Funny, but they won'y need the SCOTUS either so it will be just a bunch of mostly rich guys and their money and everyone else with all those guns that the NRA pushed.  Time for another revolution? I am sure that the people will all rush to save the rich.  Sure.

LawrenceBailey
LawrenceBailey

not having to ever see Harry Reid on television ever again, would be a cause for great celebration!

swagger
swagger

imagine a government controlled by the hard right in the house, senate and supreme court with a democrat as president.  it looks more and more like a good idea to let the confederate states secede.

JimStarowicz
JimStarowicz

Looks like that rovian math doesn't die, just like the revisionist history and throwing everything but reality at the wall to see what sticks, no wonder they still buy into reagan capitalism!!!

rjheckma
rjheckma

It's already sweltering in most of the country. Miserable. Now you have just gone and made it even worse. Has to be cooler in Canada.

jmac
jmac

"Senate majority leader Harry Reid backed off a threat to utilize the so-called nuclear option to curtail the filibuster after weeks of escalating rhetoric. One reason may have been . . . "

No, no and no.   Senator Reid did not back off.  SENATOR MCCONNELL BACKED OFF and gave Reid everything he wanted.  Why did McConnell back off?   One reason may have been . .. .     


anon76
anon76

Jesus H, Zeke.  Have you looked at Montana's electoral history?  Do you know what the Republicans' record is at getting statewide office over the last 10+ years?  Technically the at large House seat is statewide, but outside that the Republicans have been pretty close to shut out.  Schweitzer would have been a first choice for the Montana D party, but by no means is an R pickup a sure thing, or even better than even money.  The Republicans have a thin bench in the state, but by no means let that stop you from your fantasy projections.

If only elections were decided by pundits rather than people voting, what a much more interesting fiction we'd be living in!

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

Probably reason why many Democrats are sitting this one out is Obamacare. They are just making sure that they are out of the way when the train wreck happens. Two Obama himself. They want to keep distance from the worst President this country ever had. They will just wait for an opportune time when they feel it is alright to wade back to the waters again.

mjshep
mjshep

@senor100 Excellent point.  It makes you wonder about the slant in the rest of the article.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@KennethGlennKoons How did Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donell work out last election? Keep putting out crazy, unqualified candidates and keep losing winnable seats.

mjshep
mjshep

@KennethGlennKoons Yeah, that same noted leftist PPP polling that was the most accurate in thee 2012 elections.  Go back to your basement and unskew some more polls.  Don't worry about reality.  Oh, and Obama won because people were afraid to vote because of IRS pressure?  That and ACORN, I suppose. Also.

jschmidt
jschmidt

@MaryaliceAlexander The Dems won't be happy until the entire country is bankrupt. They want 11 million undocumented to be able to vote in state and local elections as NYC and New Haven, CT want to continue the Dem dynasty in those states. The Tea Party wants the govt to live within its means. Is that wrong? The Dems want to keep power, and that will continue to destroy business and jobs. We have the weakest recovery since WWII because of Obama and the Dems anti business policies.

SkyeADG
SkyeADG

@MaryaliceAlexander Perhaps because the primary thing Tea Partiers are for is NOT continuing to spend/waste 1.1 to 1.6 trillion dollars more than the government takes in every year?  That alone should be reason enough to vote for Tea Party candidates instead of nut-job spend as much as you want and we'll print more libbers.  The Senate NEEDS the sour-pusses in charge so a screeching halt can be brought to the continued attempts to spend our country into European-style thug-ocracy in which government has no respect for obeying the laws it is charged with enforcing.

VivianBennett-Cohan
VivianBennett-Cohan

@tonyv 

Everything that can be wrong about ObamacareTAX, is wrong.... Cost, rationing.  And it doesn't cover everyone no matter what the libs say.

Instead of ObamacareTAX, we should have just found those several million people without insurance, and GIVEN THEM INSURANCE...Instead, the libs wanted total control, and rationing.....

And so there goes America. 

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@LawrenceBailey  You do realize you don't have to see anyone on television that you don't want to, right? 

CaliforniaMike
CaliforniaMike

@swagger Not just the Confederate south.  Get rid of the Great Plains states and the Rocky Mountain states as well.  Mostly full of intolerant racists!

jmac
jmac

@rjheckma It's not as bad as it looks.   This reporter is stretching when he has to use Reid's "confidence has waned" as an excuse that Dems are nervous.   Reid didn't back off.  Reid won.  McConnell backed off and this reporter was lazy this morning.    If anything, McConnell's confidence has waned.   He's on shaky grounds and it shows.  He had to let McCain take the lead as he cowered.    

VivianBennett-Cohan
VivianBennett-Cohan

@jmac 

We need stronger republicans.  I admit it. McCain, Graham, McConnell are very week... I would love to see the Tea party conservatives take over Washington.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@jmac 


You mean that Reid and the Dems were finally ready to give to a friendly journalist  the "goods" on why McConnell  so quickly left the military in the 1960s to go to law school. Mitch's brotherhood to the Larry Craigs of the world is one of the worst kept secrets in DC.

anon76
anon76

Oye, the article gets worse as it goes along.  "Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will face Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, though he is heavily favored."

Who is heavily favoring McConnell?  He's sitting at +4 in the current polling average, which puts his seat somewhere between "Lean Republican" and "Tossup", at least by the standards of most election prognosticators out there.  How does that make him "heavily favored"?  Or are you just helpfully parroting Mr. Dayspring's line, in case we didn't see it at the end of your article?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverdeFunny thing about ObamaCare. So what else do you have to gripe about?

Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York as changes under the federal health care law take effect. State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York.


jschmidt
jschmidt

@jmac @KennethGlennKoons no CA will never learn. They'll continue to bankrupt themselves as long as unions control the Democrats and get everything they want.

r0b
r0b

@VivianBennett-Cohan @tonyv do you just ignore the facts with yet another state showing cheaper prices for individuals (NY, OR, CA just so far)? Hush now you republiKan shill.

anon76
anon76

@jmac

I don't think he even "let" McCain take the lead.  He offered his own plan, and the D leaders decided to work with McCain instead.  He was frozen out and looked extremely weak in front of his own caucus, as well as the voters back home.  Yet that will not stop this reporter from saying that Mr. 36% approval rating is "heavily favored" to win his next election.

jmac
jmac

@tommyudo @jmac I don't think a journalist needs old news on McConnell - he's already a basket case of nerves.   I understand a writer wanting to give the Republican's side on taking back the Senate, but to me it's ignores the huge problems Republicans are starting to have with those pesky 47% - many who are white and vote Republican.   When Rod Dreher praises Obama (I had to clear my eyes on that one) and slams House Republicans on the farm bill, that means the earth shook.    

jschmidt
jschmidt

@r0b @VivianBennett-Cohan @tonyv And do you ignore the fact that jobs are being made part time to escape Obamacare costs. And the fact that Obamacare appoints a panel of bureaucrats that sole job is too cut costs, and they answer to no one, can't be fired and can do anything they want with no appeal?

tonyv
tonyv

@r0b @VivianBennett-Cohan @tonyv Really? If what you say is true, it should be getting more popular, just from workers getting their new rates.  Polling for the law should be gaining in approval... oh wait

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 @ReneDemonteverde Now how about those beach front properties ? Take advantage of the offer while it lasts. Come on Mantis. My dog just whispered if only you could post your picture she could see what a sucker really looks like.