PJ Media

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.”

Republicans are addressing Hispanic voters in states like Colorado, Barone said, noting that Hispanics voted 67 percent for Obama in 2008 and 71 percent nationally in 2012.

“Hispanic voters, we are told, are a rising percentage of the electorate; they will be in future years. This is inevitable, whatever happens to immigration,” he said.

Barone told the crowd that Democrats have been focusing on issues Hispanics are not concerned about during the midterm elections.

“If you look at polls, the first issue they are concerned about is not immigration; it is jobs and education. What has this administration done on jobs? Well, the job picture is not very good, particularly if you are low-skilled,” he said. “Education? Well, they want the teacher unions to run the place since they have done such a great job of it over the last 40 years – the hostility to charter schools and other things.”

In response to a question from the audience, Barone described a Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016 as antique.

“Her book tour was not kind to her. Let me put it this way: The Clinton’s theme song from President Clinton’s first national campaign was ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.’ We are young. We are future-oriented. ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow’ was released by Fleetwood Mac in 1977. In 2016, that will be 39 years ago,” he said. “There’s something antique about it.”

PJ Media asked Barone if he thinks former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush should run for president in 2016.

“Jeb Bush is 6 years younger than Hillary Clinton. She’s been around for how long as a national figure? Since 1991. I mean, what’s the best argument for her candidacy? In 3 words: third Clinton term, right? People remember Bill Clinton’s presidency as having been a successful presidency. They don’t remember that about the Bush presidency,” Barone said.

“They don’t feel that way about the Obama presidency so it’s obviously in her interest to run, not for the third Obama term, but for the third Clinton term. Well, that’s starting to get antique,” he added.

Barone was also asked if Jeb Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish, could help the GOP garner more support from Hispanics.

“He actually, or at least so he has told me, he can alter his accent in Spanish. He can sound more Cuban or more Mexican. I don’t know if he can do more Colombian, which Latin Americans tell me is the best Spanish, except maybe their own country, but if you can change accents of a foreign language, your command of it is pretty good,” Barone said. “So he’s great at that.”

Barone said immigration reform is going to become less of an issue as time goes on.

“I don’t think we’re going to get a big move towards legalization. We’ll have to see what Obama’s going to do. He’s let it be known that he’s going to legalize millions of people by executive order – that looks pretty lawless to me. I think, although I could be wrong, there will be a firestorm if he does that.”