Seems like every day we read breathless articles about angst and remorse in the Republican party, and how civil war may be about to break out. Will they lose the House in the next election? Will they kill each other over immigration? Is Boehner out? Is Karl Rove a traitor? Is the Tea Party over/leaving the party/imploding? Is this what is really going on?
Here’s something else to think about. Something that might bother Harry Reid even more than deciding how to vote on the assault rifle ban.
Harry has a math problem. Don’t worry. Keep reading. It’s just arithmetic.
There are 45 Republicans in the Senate. They need 6 more to control the world’s greatest deliberative body. In 2014, there are 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans up for reelection. In other words, the Democrats have a lot to lose.
The Republican in the tightest race last time was Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate, and he won 53% of the vote. I’m sure it is possible some of the Republicans will have a tough time.
But let’s look at the Democrats. Seven of the states with Senate seats up in ’14 were won by Romney in 2012, most by a large margin:
Baucus, Max (D-MT)
Begich, Mark (D-AK)
Hagan, Kay R. (D-NC)
Johnson, Tim (D-SD)
Landrieu, Mary L. (D-LA)
Pryor, Mark L. (D-AR)
Rockefeller, John D., IV (D-WV-Retiring)
Granted some of these individual senators may be very popular at home, but what if they are pushed to vote on major issues out of step with their states?
Here’s a word problem for Harry: What happens in Montana, where Obama got 41.8% when they are reminded their Senator is a Democrat? Will they be happy if they find out he is the one pushing the Obama tax agenda as Chairman of the Finance Committee, that he was instrumental in passing Obamacare?
If seven seats aren’t enough to get you thinking, consider retirements and toss-ups. The rest of the 2014 class of Democratic Senators:
Coons, Christopher A. (D-DE)
Durbin, Richard J. (D-IL)
Franken, Al (D-MN)
Harkin, Tom (D-IA- Retiring)
Kerry, John F. (D-MA)
Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ)
Levin, Carl (D-MI)
Merkley, Jeff (D-OR)
Reed, Jack (D-RI)
Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)
Udall, Mark (D-CO)
Udall, Tom (D-NM)
Warner, Mark R. (D-VA)
Levin and Durbin haven’t announced for reelection. Harkin and Rockefeller are retiring. John Kerry’s seat is open. Al Franken won 42% of the vote last time. And Michigan has a Republican governor.
Shaheen won a tight race. Both Udalls and Warner won easily, but their states were in the toss-up column in 2012 until election day.
And when did Delaware become solidly blue? (Since they haven’t had a strong candidate run for a Senate seat since Bill Roth). New Jersey is usually a safe seat for Democrats, but what if there are two seats open?
Of course, the same thing could have been said of the 2012 election. The Republicans had a huge advantage going in, but managed to lose what should have been some easy seats. But in an off-year election, in the second term of a President…anything can happen.
When you drill down on the details–do the math–things will need to go very, very smoothly in the next 18 months for Harry Reid to sleep well on election night.