Former Daily Beast writer Megan McArdle has thrown some cold water on Democratic hopes for 2016 – and given conservatives a possible boost in confidence. In fact, she says that there’s a 70% probability that by 2017 Republicans could control the House, Senate, and the White House. Yeah, it’s seems far-fetched. We haven’t even entered the trenches for 2014, and we’re talking about 2016. Nevertheless, her blog entry on July 12 explained her reasoning.
Since World War II, only four presidents have been succeeded by a member of their party. As I mentioned above, two of them accomplished this by dying in office. One of them accomplished this by resigning in disgrace ahead of his own impeachment. Only one of them, Ronald Reagan, left office at the end of his appointed term and was succeeded by a duly elected member of his own party. Mostly, the White House flips back and forth like a metronome.
At the beginning of Obama’s term, people were talking about the kind of Democratic dominance that FDR enjoyed. Didn’t happen. Isn’t going to. So I think the GOP goes into the race with a big edge on the White House. Voters just get tired after eight years.
For example, when I pointed out how few presidents have been succeeded by members of their own party, you may have been tempted to argue that Al Gore “really” won. I’m not going to have that argument right now, but even assuming you’re correct, what does that tell you? That after the greatest economic boom in decades, the Democratic vice president fought hard to a statistical tie with the Republican governor of Texas. Sure, he wasn’t the most charismatic candidate either, but neither was George Bush. Getting a third term in the White House just seems to be really difficult. And Barack Obama is not going to finish with a ground-shaking economic boom.
Add to that the Democratic bench. Hillary Clinton is a formidable politician, but she will be nearly 70 years old in 2016. No one else except Biden (who is older than she) has anything like the national name recognition that multiple people on the GOP bench enjoy. But if one or both of those two decide to run (and I think it’s nearly certain that they will), they’ll probably get the nomination just because they will suck all the oxygen away from the other candidates–both the money and the publicity will follow them. And though they’re both formidable challengers, I think their age is going to hurt them. I think it would have hurt Reagan if he’d been running against more formidable opponents, but Carter was badly damaged, and Walter Mondale was a nice man who made a very good Senate candidate in Minnesota.
Granted, she did say that her analysis is subject to change based on the prognostications of Nate Silver, who serves as the left’s favorite elections predictor. He wrote on July 15 that Republican chances for retaking the senate astronomically increase after next year’s elections, which was reiterated in McArdle’s post.
A race-by-race analysis of the Senate, in fact, suggests that Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections. Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.
It seems that Silver and McArdle are on the same wave length, as they both predicted the 50-51 “fragile” GOP majority by 2017. The thing to takeaway from this is that Harry Reid’s days could be numbered if we play this thing right.