Barone on Midterms: GOP in ‘Good Shape’ to Take Senate but ‘Not Assured’

WASHINGTON -- Author and political commentator Michael Barone said Republicans are in good shape to take the Senate on Nov. 4, but it’s not guaranteed.

“Republicans are pretty well assured of keeping the House of Representatives. They will probably gain seats. If they gain 9 seats, they will have 243 seats – that’s the most the Republicans have had in the House of Representatives since the election of 1946, which I didn’t cover for Fox News because Fox News wasn’t around then,” said Barone at a Federalist Society event on Thursday.

Barone, senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, said House Republicans seemed to be squandering their advantage over Democrats last October with the government shutdown.

“But then the Republicans ended the shutdown and we started learning about Healthcare.gov from the smartest administration in the world,” he said. “Law school may have taught them how to use words good but government don’t do computers very well and the numbers basically switched back.”

Barone, a Fox News contributor, said Republicans need a net gain of 6 seats to win a majority in the Senate.

“They are in good shape to do so but it’s not an assured thing,” he told the audience.

Barone said a recent Washington Post analysis has the GOP’s chances of winning a majority in the Senate at 93 percent.

“I think that’s high. That sounds implausible to me,” Barone said.

In the 2012 presidential election, Barone predicted an Electoral College win of 315-223 for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Following the election, Barone said he expected higher voter turnout in key states.

Barone said Republicans have the lead in 8 states for Democratic-held Senate seats, including West Virginia, South Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana.

“It’s pretty clear her luck has run out,” Barone said, referring to Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

“I think what we’re seeing is a rejection of big government policies,” he concluded. “To what extent that will be rejected and what the numbers are remains unclear, but I think the basic message is pretty clear."

Barone said North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is currently polling around 44 percent in her race for re-election and attacking her Republican opponent for cutting education.

“The word cut means not increase as much as I would like to see it increase,” he said. “She held her own in the polling; we’ll see what happens. This is a good test of my 45 percent rule. Is that still holding or is that no longer indicative of how voters vote?”

Barone also addressed the possibility of a Democratic primary race between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“That will be a tough fight. I think one of the primary questions is, who’s going to carry Salem?” Barone said to laughter from the audience. “If you go back to the 2008 Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton did carry Salem by a wide margin over Barack Obama. You can look that up.”