Left Turn Threatens Dem Control of Senate

Left Turn Threatens Dem Control of Senate

For months, Breitbart News has noted that Senate Democrats face a difficult political terrain going into the 2014 midterm elections. Democrats are defending 21 seats against the GOP’s 14. While the GOP is favored in all of its races, Mitt Romney won seven states the Democrats are defending. The GOP needs a net gain of six seats to take control of the chamber. Recent retirements, coupled with the Senate’s lurch to the left, have opened up more paths for the GOP to take control. 

Likely GOP Pick-ups: South Dakota, West Virginia

Long-time Senators Jay Rockefeller and Tim Johnson have announced their retirement from the two deeply-red states. These two Senators were uniquely able to win states that have been trending Republican for years. Mitt Romney won both by more than double digits. Popular former Governor Mike Rounds is already running in South Dakota. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, scion of a political dynasty, is running in West Virginia. Some organizations are looking for more conservative alternatives, but these two remain the presumptive favorites to win the nomination and the general. 

Possible GOP Pick-ups: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina.

First-term Sens. Begich (AK) and Hagen (NC), along with Sens. Pryor (AR), Landrieu (LA) and Baucus (MT) are up for reelection. They last won elections in the Obama wave year, 2008. Mitt Romney won each of these states in 2012. With the exception of Landrieu, each of these Senators voted against the Senate budget plan that raised taxes and increased the national debt. They will likely all vote against gun control legislation next month. The GOP hasn’t settled on candidates in these states, but each of these Senators is highly vulnerable. 

Competitive GOP Pick-up Opportunities: Iowa, Michigan

The retirements of Sens. Tom Harkin (IA) and Carl Levin (MI) dealt a serious blow to Senate Democrats. Both would have been the prohibitive favorites to win reelection next year. Their retirement, however, puts the two seats in play. Obama won both states handily in 2012, but each state votes differently in off-year elections. In 2010, Republicans swept offices in Michigan and Iowa. The same could happen in 2014, when the electorate is more conservative and Republican than Presidential years. 

Horizon Opportunities: Minnesota, Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia

All of these states are represented by first-term Senators who won office while Obama was racking up large victory margins in their states. Each, however, is currently a favorite to win reelection. In the past month, however, Senate Democrats have embraced gun control, amnesty for illegal immigrants and a budget that adds $7 trillion to the debt and never achieves balance. The Senate is also expected to take up climate change later this year. Each of these positions are outside the mainstream views of the public and could erode these Senators support in their states. 

Each of these Senators also provided the deciding vote on ObamaCare. As implementation of the unpopular law takes effect next year, public sentiment against these incumbents could turn quickly. 

Depending on events, the GOP has an opportunity to flip control in at least 13 states. They need to win half of these to take control. If you think this is overly optimistic, consider how the political landscape looked in March, 2009. 

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