I’m not going to spend much time discussing the House. It’s going to keep a republican majority. Since 1910 only Clinton has gained seats in the house during a six year midterm election, and his approval rating at the time was 14 points higher than Obama’s. Even then, he only gained five seats. If Obama gains 17, all sorts of political firsts are happening. I am going to focus on a particular House raise later on, but I have no doubts the lower chamber will stay red.
If historical trends play out the same(Have you accepted Nate Silver as your lord and savior?) the Senate should turn red as well. There have been ten six year midterm senate elections since 1910. That date is important because of the passing of the 17th amendment establishing the popular vote election method for senators. Nine of those ten have seen the president’s party losing an average of 8.6 seats in the senate. The democratic majority is currently five seats. The exception to this rule was once again Clinton in ’98. The senate stayed the same in that election. The success of Clinton in that year is one of the reasons I’ve been so confused by Rand Paul bring the Lewinsky scandal up lately, but that’s another post.
When you consider there are six seats democrats must defend in red states and six in swing states, a republican gain of at least six seats in those races seems realistic(assuming they hang onto all of their current seats). Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, and South Dakota are all states we’d expect a republican challenger to have at least a puncher’s chance. It should be noted that in 2012 the democrats won seats in North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, and Indiana though. Nothing is guaranteed. That was a presidential year, and this is a midterm, so we have to be careful which data points we value more heavily. More importantly though, if you were to predict the senate staying blue, you’d need a reason to ignore the established statistics.
What hasn’t been around for the past 100 years and could throw an outlier in the data is the Tea Party. I know I just told you the Indiana senate race in 2012 could be ignored because it was in a presidential year, but the reason it changed hands wasn’t because of odd voter turnout numbers. The thirty six year center right senator from that district, Richard Lugar, was widely assumed to win the seat again. His hadn’t received under 66% of the vote in a senate race since 1982.
No one would have predicted the seat changing parties. No one would have predicted him losing in the Republican Primary to Richard Mourdock. No one would have predicted Mourdock would make statements that amounted to him saying God intends on women being raped. After that there were people who predicted Mourdock would lose to democratic candidate Joe Donnely. That was without the tea party specifically targeting certain republicans in the primaries.
One race I will be watching closely is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is leading his democratic challenger by 4.5 points in the polls right now over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes, but he is being challenged in the primaries by tea party candidate Matt Bevin. From the United Kentucky Tea Party:
“Sen. McConnell’s Progressive Liberal voting record, his absolute iron-fisted rule over the Republican Party in Kentucky and his willingness to roll over and cede power to President Obama and the liberals in Washington prove that he is no friend to the American people or the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,”
You’ve probably never heard of the United Kentucky Tea Party. They only have 1,000 members. You may have heard of the Club for Growth. A super-pac that donates millions to candidates including Ted Cruz and Richard Mourdock. You may have also heard of the Senate Conservatives Fund. Another multi million dollar super-pac. Both organizations have expressed interest in backing Matt Bevin over Mitch McConnell. Bevin also has the endorsement of someone I know you’ve heard of, Glenn Beck.
The question is could Bevin win a national election? It’s certainly possible. Which is more likely though, a five term incumbent being reelected in a state that classically favors the incumbent’s party, or a new candidate who has no political experience whatsoever nose diving in the polls after a gaff?
All this leads to the question of the year. Which is worse, having someone from your party who you disagree with on key issues holding the seat, or having someone from the opposing political party hold the seat? The term RINO(Republican in name only) is going to get thrown around a lot this election. When it’s used, the above question is what is really being asked.
For a closer look at what I mean, watch this video of Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity debating the issue. Coulter is arguing that the republicans and tea party need unity because without a majority neither group will have any power to work towards their shared goals. Hannity is saying he has no interest in working with people who would vote to raise against repealing the Affordable Care Act even though it is currently an entirely empty political gesture because the Republican/Tea Party lacks control of any branch of government.
Here’s what I know: history tells us the non presidential party should take control of the senate during a six year midterm, history doesn’t tell us what happens when a party starts actively targeting its own members, history tells us people with no political experience have at least one skeleton in their closet revealed or slip of the tongue during an election cycle, history doesn’t tell us who will win in 2014, but I bet it will be historic.
As always, questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.