2014: The Year We Make Majority?


Tom Dougherty looks at the GOP’s chances for capturing the Senate next year, and his map has got to send Democrats to bed with the shivers each night. Here’s how the playing field stacks up in plain English:

There are 35 seats up for grabs in 2014, of which 21 are currently held by Democrats. Only seven of them are safely blue. That’s one less than the eight seats the Republicans stand to gain in addition to holding all 14 of their current seats. The other six Democrat seats are now vulnerable enough to provide opportunity to achieve the 55-45 majority cited in the opening paragraph.

Read that again: A 55-45 GOP majority might just be doable in the face of voter disenchantment (and I chose that word very carefully) with Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom.

Tom adds this:

While the scoring is a purely mathematical calculation I have added some anecdotal information in certain narratives for the The Pickups and The Vulnerable.

The Unchanged
The safe states for the Democrats are Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Virginia. For Republicans it’s Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina (both seats), Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

The Pickups
There are no pickups for the Democrats and there is one safe flip for the Republicans. West Virginia is statistically a lock with Shelley Moore Capito garnering every measurable value in her favor.

It’s important to apply a bit of English to purely mathematical models as Tom does here, because humans aren’t purely mathematical beings. Numbers-crunching is important, but it can miss the human elements which create wave elections — and people’s very human reactions to ObamaCare may just unleash another wave. Although minus a 2010-size tsunami, it bears repeating that after yesterday, a 51-seat majority is comfortable in ways it wasn’t before Harry Reid started blanking around with the Senate’s rules.

But let’s focus on another angle of that human element, the most important angle: The candidates.

This is the Senate. These are statewide races. With so many safe districts, even a bobble-headed social climber like Nancy Pelosi can become a real power broker in her party. And that’s not a partisan thing, either — it’s just as true of safe-seat Republicans as it is of Democrats. Although the GOPers are probably more likely to engage in the small-time corruption of pork barreling and tax gimmees than big-time corruption like ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. But I digress.

These statewide races require winning moderate voters and facing the national media. It’s is no place for unprepared second-raters like Todd Akins. Even a smart fellow like Rand Paul almost stepped in his own libertarian doo during what should have been an even easier win. And I’m not trying to pick on Paul. As I’ve said before, we libertarians are prone to thinking we can talk shop with reporters like it’s a late-night dorm-room bull session. But it’s best to leave the abstract theory aside, and focus on the campaign trail. And focus is exactly what next year’s crop of GOP candidates need.

“It’s ObamaCare, stupid.”

A sign should be hung in every campaign office. Those four words should be every computer’s screensaver. ObamaCare should be the first and last thing every GOP candidate talks about, and it should be everything in the middle, too. These candidates must be prepped and rehearsed, and ready to rely on policy help from friendly think tanks.

They must know the script like Kenneth Branagh knows his Shakespeare, and they’d better be ready to perform like Olivier in front of live audiences, night after night.

That’s how you get to a 55-seat majority.