Get PJ Media on your Apple

Will Republicans Blow Their Senate Chances One More Time?

Trouble brewing for GOP incumbents in Georgia and Kentucky.

by
Rich Baehr

Bio

August 15, 2013 - 12:41 am
Page 1 of 2  Next ->   View as Single Page

In 2010, the  most favorable environment for Republicans since the 1994 midterms, the GOP picked up 63 seats to take control of the House of Representatives. Nationally, the GOP won the House vote by 7%, after losing by 11% two years earlier.  Republicans also gained six Senate seats that  November, and they won a surprise victory earlier in the Massachusetts special election for Senate (Scott Brown).  The extent of the GOP sweep carried over into governorships and state legislative seats.  Republicans picked up Senate seats in solidly Democratic Illinois (Mark Kirk) and consistently Democratic Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey). Republicans also picked up seats in Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.

Republicans suffered three defeats in potentially winnable Senate races in 2010. Delaware, where Mike Castle, the only GOP candidate capable of winning statewide, was defeated in a party primary; Colorado, where Ken Buck  lost narrowly to an appointed Democratic senator (less than 2%); and Nevada, where Sharron Angle was  beaten fairly decisively by Harry Reid.  In all three states, Tea Party candidates knocked off candidates in GOP primaries who likely would have run stronger in November. Only Nevada, among the three, might have remained with the Democrats regardless of the GOP nominee.

It was much worse for the GOP in 2012, as they not only did  not gain Senate seats as was anticipated, but also lost a net two seats. Maine was lost when Olympia Snowe retired. Had Republicans gotten closer to a majority in 2010 — winning, say, Colorado and Delaware — Snowe might have run again and would have won easily. Scott Brown lost in Massachusetts, in large part because voters in the state (more of whom liked Brown more than his opponent, the churlish Elizabeth Warren) were concerned about Republicans gaining control of the Senate.

Two seats were outright blown following disastrous comments about abortion and rape by Todd Akin in Missouri (a very winnable seat against Claire McCaskill, in a state Romney carried  by 10%) and by Richard Mourdoch in Indiana, who was looking to succeed Richard Lugar in  a state Romney  won by 9%.  The biggest surprise was that the GOP candidate Rick Berg lost an open Senate seat by 1% in North Dakota, a state carried by Mitt  Romney by 20%.  Montana was another disappointment,  with GOP nominee Denny Rehberg failing to knock off incumbent Jon Tester in a state Romney carried by 14%.

A good case can be made that with better candidates or messaging in the last two cycles, the GOP today would have at least  50 members in the Senate, not 45, where they will be after Cory Booker’s coronation in the New Jersey special election.

The 2014 midterms appear to  be another target-rich environment for Republicans hoping to take control of the Senate. To accomplish that, it will take a pickup of six net seats.  Until recently, most analysts looked only at the pickup opportunities and assumed that the GOP would easily defend the seats it already controlled in 2014.  That is no longer the case. Both Kentucky and Georgia represent real pickup opportunities for Democrats, and while the GOP is currently favored in both states, neither is a safe seat and both will be expensive to defend.

On the plus side, the GOP has done a good job of recruiting candidates to run in states where Republicans have dominated in recent years. This is particularly true in Arkansas, where Representative Tom Cotton is at least 50-50 to  beat Democratic Senator Mark Pryor, and in West Virginia, where Congresswoman Shelley Capito is favored to win the seat of retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller. These two states have shifted more dramatically towards the Republicans than any others in the nation the last 15 years, with Romney winning each by well over 20%. Republicans are also favored to win the open seat of retiring Senator Tim Johnson in South Dakota (Mike Rounds) and the open seat in Montana of retiring Senator Max Baucus, two  more states Romney won easily in 2012. If Republicans win all four, and hold Georgia and Kentucky, then they need to win two of the following three to get to 51: Alaska (first-term Senator Mike Begich), Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), and North Carolina (first-term Senator Kay Hagan).  Mitt Romney won Alaska, Louisiana, and North Carolina, the first two decisively.

How  much risk is there for the GOP in defending Kentucky and Georgia? Georgia is an open-seat race, with Saxby Chambliss retiring. On election day 2008, Chambliss led by 49% to 46% over his Democratic opponent, but fell short of the required 50%, forcing a runoff. Chambliss won the second contest  easily by 14%, with black turnout dropping far more than white turnout without Barak Obama on the ballot in the runoff.  Georgia is a rapidly changing state, demographically. According to the 2010 census, it is 56% white, 30% black, and 9% Hispanic, though the white voting share is closer to 60%.  Republicans win white voters by 3 to 1 margins, and lose even more decisively among minority voters.  In recent statewide races, Republicans  have won by 8-10% margins (Romney 8%, Governor Deal 10%). McCain won by 5% in 2008.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
If all the Republicans will be doing is to endorse Democrat Ideas - Why bother having a Republican Party?
Or, as was said in 1975...

"I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, "We must broaden the base of our party” - when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

Let our banner proclaim our belief in a free market as the greatest provider for the people.

Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government's coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine.

It is time to reassert our principles and raise them to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way."
...Ronald Reagan
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the main Republican initiatives, with the country on the brink of total collapse, is legalizing 30 million illegals and funding ObamaCare (which goes free to the 30 million new residents) then I really don't care if the Republicans win or lose a Senate seat. Why should I care when Republicans are simply doing all they can to implement Obama policies?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stop perpetuating the same old myth. This is not a battle between Democrats and Republicans. It is a battle between an entrenched ruling elite (both Democrats and Republicans) vs We The People.

Think about the way the Democratic establishment treats the blacks: They talk a great game but never do anything about the plight of the blacks and their communities. The Dems want black votes and black donations but that's it.

Guess what: The Republican establishment treats us the same way. They want our votes. They want our money.

Both constituencies (Blacks and Conservatives) need to wake up and realize we are on the same side and our common enemy is the entrenched ruling class.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (58)
All Comments   (58)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Maine was lost when Olympia Snowe retired.

The difference is only cosmetic...
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've never liked McConnell but at least he's our man. I never could understand the continued support by "those " who liked Angle and the witch from Delaware. Apparently they couldn't see the handwriting on the wall. They may be on target as far as finances are concerned but they are totally lacking in common sense.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some people would prefer to be stabbed in the front, rather than being stabbed in the back.
That isn't lacking common sense, that is understanding that electing people who dilute the message, makes the message muddled and therefore makes accomplishing anything impossible - hence a constant leftward shift regardless of who is in office.
Better to get democrat policies from democrats, than from republicans - it is that simple and that sensible.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I prefer not to be stabbed either front or back. The country does not function now and O and his administration win by default. The GOP should do a little forward thinking and cut him off. They always seem to be lacking in whatever it takes, whether new technology or public relations.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they continue to bang the "social" conservatism drum - yes, they are toast.

If they listen to the libertarian wing of the party - perhaps they have a chance. That is unlikely given the dirty tricks they used against Ron Paul at the last convention.

Here's my message to "Prince Reebus" - I will NEVER, I repeat NEVER vote for the likes of Chris Christy or Jeb Bush. Do you GET that?

49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
You people are all one note Sally's with the doom and gloom. Georgia will not go Dem and neither will Kentucky. This guy is talking out his ass.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course they'll blow it; lately, that's all they do.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's one of the most ridiculous questions of the year. Of course the Republicans will throw away the House and any chance of gaining the Senate by picking the most Democrat-like candidate they possibly can.

The base is getting fed up with voting for RINOs and backstabbers (those like Christie and Cantor who talk a good game but once elected prove to be Democrats) as the lesser of two evils. If they pull it again folks will stay home. As for myself it doesn't matter since I was recently gerrymandered from a strong Republican district to a Democrat one so my vote for the House is nullified. Senate? pretty much the same now. State elections may still be viable though.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Castle may have been more viable in DE, but that's because O'Donnell and the conservatives would have rallied behind him if he'd won the primary. He lost it, and he refused to endorse O'Donnell, let alone campaign for her. (And who needed the corrupt SOB? He got rich in the House. We'd have had to bribe him for every vote, and he'd likely have jumped like Jeffords and Arlen.)

Why not mention Carly Fiorina? Boxer was vulnerable to somebody conservative on immigration, and Carly wasn't that. She made fun of Boxer's hair, and she lost, lost, lost. How come that don't make the list?

Akin said something dumb, true. Mourdoch didn't. How come Dick Lugar didn't endorse and campaign for Mourdoch? We lost those elections because the establishment GOP cuts and runs from culture fights, and maybe because they'd rather spend money with Dems than cut budgets with conservatives.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"How come Dick Lugar didn't endorse and campaign for Mourdoch?"

Because his first name says more about him than just being his first name.

"We lost those elections because the establishment GOP cuts and runs from culture fights"

No, sometimes we lose because they indulge the most extreme parts of the base in parts of the culture fight we cannot win. The GOP elite use those losses as excuses not to back the base's candidates in areas where we can win, like over-regulation and TEA.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let us form a CONSERVATIVE PARTY that will make our Beloved Ronald Reagan look like a Bolshevik. We'll have too do it sooner or later. The sooner the better.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
What Difference Does It Make? Donkey? Elephant? Just different poo producers.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Never believe for a moment that the point of the Republican Party is to win elections and to defeat Democrats. The point of the Republican Party is to participate in a fraud and to perpetuate the power-holding of RINO establishment members of their club. These people would rather lose an election than see Conservatives win and accomplish something real.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All

One Trackback to “Will Republicans Blow Their Senate Chances One More Time?”