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How Good Could 2014 Be for GOP?

Odds are even that Republicans can take over the Senate.

by
Rich Baehr

Bio

January 30, 2014 - 12:03 am
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Several thoughtful political commentators, including Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics and Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia Center for Politics, have written articles this month suggesting that prospects for Republicans in Senate contests in 2014 are improving. Trende goes as far to suggest that in a wave year, if the GOP can avoid nominating self-destructive embarrassments like Todd Akin, the net pickup could reach 10 Senate seats. In 2010, the GOP gained seven seats, including Scott Brown’s special election victory in Massachusetts. Sabato thinks the chances of the GOP winning a net six seats, the number required to gain control on top of the 45 seats the party now holds, are about even.

As is often the case, political writers catch one trend that has just run its course, while another may already be underway. As Trende points out, the approval rating for the president is a good proxy for the national vote and Senate races. In recent cycles, Republican Senate candidates have underperformed their expected vote share based on the president’s approval score (or in the case of presidential election years, the actual vote distribution at the presidential level in states with Senate races) by about 2%. In some cases, the underperformance was far worse. North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana are all states where GOP Senate candidates in 2012 who ran decent campaigns would have won easily, given the large topline margins for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in these states.

Trende has noted that GOP polling for 2014 Senate races has improved recently, as Obama’s approval score dipped to the 40% range. In 2012, when Democrats won several tight Senate races, Obama’s approval level by Election Day had reached the 50% level, a few points higher than earlier in the year, and this helped pull a few Democrats across the line. In the past few weeks, the Obama approval scores seem to have plateaued, and have even bounced up a few points to an average level of 43%. A three-point bounce, given how Trende has set up his algorithm, is worth about six points of margin in a Senate race.

Of course, there is some advantage to incumbency, particularly as it relates to fundraising and name recognition. If President Obama has a 40% approval rating in Louisiana, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who has won three consecutive close Senate elections, will be in a tight race again, whatever the president’s approval score in November. Similarly, Republican Susan Collins in Maine will far outperform the expected numbers for a generic Republican, or even for an average incumbent Republican, in a state Obama has won very easily two times.

While a great majority of House seats are not very competitive, especially after very effective redistricting by both Democrats and Republicans in states where one party completely controlled the process, Senate races have had a higher tendency to turn over in the past decade. The GOP has gone from 55 Senate seats after the 2004 election to 40 after the 2008 election, and then back up to 47 two years later (a number that would have been higher with better candidates in winnable races such as Nevada, Colorado, and Delaware that year).

In several states, the identity of one party’s candidate is not yet clear. This could have major implications in Georgia, where Akin-like contenders are in the GOP primary field for the open Senate seat, and Democrats have selected a near-ideal candidate (a moderate woman, the daughter of former moderate Democratic Senator Sam Nunn), which could turn a race that should lean GOP into a nail-biter.

In Iowa, a state that seemed likely to remain Democratic (the seat of retiring Senator Tom Harkin) now has various GOP contenders polling surprisingly close to the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley.

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Top Rated Comments   
Here we go again with the "first you have to win" strategy. We have been down this road before. We HAD control from 2001-06 and that crew of charlatans ran up a huge deficit and increased debt. If all we are going to get from the GOP are the same type of candidates the other side is running, what is the gain for us at home, a "warm feeling" that at least we are getting hosed by Republicans? If that is what these bums are offering this year then I say the hell with them.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The idea of this article is wrong. The article should have been about how much of the GOP will be left after November 2014? Boehner and the boys are ensuring this today with their closed door new approach on amnesty. He is proving that the GOP does not give a hoot about what it's base wants and cares intimately about what the lobbyist want even in the face of alienating it's base.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are missing two points. First, the Republican Party is not standing still, but their direction is not positive. No, they are not focusing on Obamacare. Within the week, the House will formally propose a plan that will legalize pretty much every illegal alien, and for the 4th time falsely promise to control the border. There will be bogus quibbles so that they can claim it is not amnesty; but it is. Or rather it will be as soon as a Federal Court weighs in. And at that point, the Republican conservative base will be done with the party.

The second point involves the candidate selection as you note. The RNC has declared war on the TEA Party and conservatives. The candidates selected will not be either, or if they are they will not be supported by the party. Which means that voter turnout will not be there. There is a related point about candidate selection. If the Institutional Republicans get everything their way, if they bar conservative candidates and still take the majority in the Senate; given the actions of the Republican caucuses in both Houses for the last 5 years; Obama will get everything he asks for and more.

The election is in the hands of the Institutional Republicans to lose. And they are trying their best.

Subotai Bahadur
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (68)
All Comments   (68)
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Don't you all ever get tired of preaching to the choir? Between that and your contemptuous hatred for those who (politically) bless themselves with three fingers instead of four, you have achieved a degree of smug hypocrisy that is positively awesome. You sit there and rail at the political world but never do anything to actually change it. Congratulations! With absolutely no effort on your part, you will be able to parrot your "I told you so!" back and forth to each other after the next election. You will be able to blame Obama for the sad state of affairs for years to come! Ain't internet politics wonderful???!!!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Republicans and Democrats - What difference does it make ! The author seriously and naively underestimates the countless and predictable ways the Republicans can F___ up and how the Democrats can cheat.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Frankly, I just don't feel like bending over and enjoying it.

The only way I can get excited about a GOP resurgence in 2014 is if it's because of Tea Party candidates. RINO candidates might be even more dangerous than radical left candidates (i.e., Democrats). They are nothing more than stalking horses for the imminent destruction of the US.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Frankly, I just don't feel like bending over and enjoying it."--proreason

Then don't bend over, put your shoulder to the wheel and get a better candidate nominated. Yeah, yeah, what the dozens of bellyachers here don't feel like doing is getting off the couch, out of their pajamas, into street clothes and on the streets going door-to-door for a better candidate. Eternal vigilance is a price of liberty and it can't be outsourced to somebody else. The other part of liberty's price is citizen action. Have you paid your share?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
2014? Watch this great chance to shellac the DemocRats once again evaporate like a beer-fart in a hurricane when the GOP House passes their Illegal Alien Amnesty "Reform".

Yes...I'm serious.I'd rather see Pelosi as Speaker of the House Soviet if the Republicans sell out to the Chamber of Commerce types.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"2014? Watch... when the GOP House passes their Illegal Alien Amnesty "Reform"."--Bilgeman II

Sigh. That's the price you pay for having so many fellow GOPers sit on their hands in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 letting LIVs pick your candidates.

Bottom line: in a democratic republic the politicians go where the voters want to go. (Would you have it any other way?) So I gotta ask, have you been doing your part to inform your family, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow worshippers in your congregation about the principles at stake, principles that point to how honest people should cast their vote?

Talk is cheap. Show me the votes.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nobody is ever going to go broke betting against Republicans snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Taking a victory lap in the Republican Clown car 10 months early is a joy ride for imbeciles.

There is no coherent, cohesive, cooperative messaging. We are facing a lawless, lying, spying, totalitarian tyranny...and Republicans can't get THAT into a singular platform. We FORMED this country in opposition to that very thing...and Republicans can't coalesce around the notion of saving it from it again.

If freedom doesn't resonate with the people running for office, they should hang with the traitors who are trying to steal it.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The best thing for Democrats is to take a breather and let the B team play for a few months. It's called consolidation. When has it ever been any different? The Department of Miseducation will still be there, the Department of Energy Prevention, on and on. Permanent government needs a break from unrestrained growth too.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
My first reaction after reading this piece was, "Are the Republicans really this clueless?" They are not that clueless. They know that a great many of us want real change, and therefore this is all about incumbents protecting their seats, which means demonizing any and all who dare to challenge.

They want us to believe that we cannot risk challengers, so we better keep what we have.

In Florida I watched how Charlie Crist and supporters attempted to bypass the Primary process to avoid challengers. While voters may have been disappointed with Rubio at times, I can assure you that he is far better than Crist--the same Crist now planning a run for Governor as a Democrat.

Kind of makes me wonder how many of our current Republican incumbents would switch parties if unseated.

Now I see the same strategy I witnessed in Florida being played out on the national level. The more they discourage Primary challenges, the more I wonder why I should remain a registered Republican. What other reason do I have to remain?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"They want us to believe that we cannot risk challengers..."--StandatPost

Yeah, but the wise voter knows better. Challenging the incumbent of ones own party in a district that's safe for your party is no risk to ones own party at all. In a swing district, the time to put ones shoulder to the wheel on behalf of a better candidate was when the race was for an open seat. And if the district has a majority for the other party, getting a candidate who shares ones principles nominated over a squish will shape ones party's election battlespace in the future plus improve the quality of the people on ones state party committee just a little bit.

So, are you in the arena already or are you sitting this one out StandatPost?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Odds are even that Republicans can take over the Senate."

Not gonna happen. Some screwball candidate will shoot himself in the foot over abortion, rape, gummy bears, etc and lose the race in his state. Bet on it happening.

And if by some miracle the GOP does get 51 senators seated they'll still screw it up. They'll let the Demorats set the agenda, let them filibuster to their heart's content, and generally act like the minority party instead of the majority.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh Harald, if your namesake shared your attitude I can see why he lost at the Battle of Hastings.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 2014 elections could be very good for the GOP IF the "elite leadership" will open their eyes and realize that the Tea Party/conservatives are trying to preserve the Republican platform, while the "leadership" is scuttling it. The party elites need to start HELPING the conservatives, not WAGING WAR against them. But if the "leadership" continues on their current path of saying they are conservative but keep rolling over for the Democrats, 2014 will be a very bad year and possibly render the Republican Party useless.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
How is the platform determined? I know there is some committee. How much of the committee has to approve a plank before it is adopted? If it's only 51%, for example, would that mean the other 49% would be RINOS?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very astute observation. I took note of which RINOs stood against Senator Cruz's filibuster against ObamaCare's Individual Mandate implementation. In hindsight, the man looks clairvoyant while those RINOs that stood against him look like retards.

Immigration is another issue very similar. Listen to the Base, because if you don't, then come November, the Base won't listen to you.
"Outreach" to Hispanics and women and whoever does NOT mean pandering...especially when those segments aren't going to vote for your brand in almost any circumstances.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...possibly render the Republican Party useless". No, try "...WILL render the Republican Party useless".
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
If Barry Goldwater had it all to do over again, I'd bet he'd tell everyone on the right to hold hands & hold their tongues through the election and then knock each other's blocks off after the fact. Much better to have family feuds during the holidays for all the world to see rather than whine - yet again - about those evil, rotten lefties who 'stole' the election and won't even play flag football with you.

It's man-up & shut up time. Get the bloody win and sort it all out amongst cousins afterwards.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
We did this before. We got the bloody win and they made a damn bloody
mess of things. If that is the plan, who needs it?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We did this before. We got the bloody win and they made a damn bloody
mess of things."--Curt A

I disagree with your claim. You let somebody else pick your candidate because you failed to exercise Eternal Vigilance. You sat on your hands during the so-called off year while others were lining up candidates sympatico to them. Who was it who said "I don't care how the vote goes as long as I set the agenda"?

If you're unhappy with the agenda of your party's incumbents today, that's part of the price you're paying for failing to be vigilant and exercising your duty of citizen action for years and years past. Now go and sin no more. Write again when you've found a candidate to back and let us all know what you're doing for that candidate.

Talk is cheap. Show me the votes.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The biggest obstacle the GOP has is themselves, especially the "Akin-Murdock Syndrome."
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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