Republicans Poised to Take Senate?
When it comes to politics, I’m not an optimist. Instead, I prefer to call myself a realist, someone who can objectively look at information and predict the results of political elections. I don’t mince words; if I think someone can win, I’ll tell you, and if I think someone’s going to lose, I’ll tell you that too. So, you might ask, why I am writing all of this? Why do I feel the need to have several sentences of disclaimer before talking about the 2012 elections? I write this because I want to make sure that my predictions are taken to be as objective as possible. Yes, I would love it if the Republicans won the White House, held the House of Representatives, and seized a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. However, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. In fact, I’d wager money that only one of those things will happen.
As I said, though, my personal opinions don’t cloud the facts. Even as Romney’s struggled to pull ahead of President Obama, Republican candidates in the Senate have overtaken their Democratic opponents. This uptick in Senatorial support has convinced me that, as long as the Tea Party doesn’t get involved in any more primaries (i.e. Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle), the GOP has a very good chance to take control of Congress’ Upper House.
First, look at the Senatorial races that are considered toss-ups. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MI), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) are all defending their seats in 2012. On top of that, there are 3 open seats (North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin), all of which were previously held by Democrats. Thus, out of the 8 seats considered toss-ups, only 2 are being defended by Republicans. That alone should be a cause for concern amongst Senate Democrats.
However, that’s not the worst of it. Not only are the Democrats defending 6 of the 8 toss-up seats, but they are also trailing in 7 of those races (Scott Brown is behind Elizabeth Warren by a measly 0.1%). In states like Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, the Republican candidate leads by 5% or more. As of now, the only true toss-ups on this list seem to be Florida, Massachusetts, and Virginia.
To put things in perspective, the GOP only needs to flip 5 seats to become the majority Party (due to the fact that Angus King, the Independent currently leading in Maine, will most likely caucus with the Democrats). Thus, if Republicans won the races in Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, they could afford to see Scott Brown go down and a Democrat elected in Florida or Virginia. From my point of view, this is the best position that Senatorial Republicans have been in since 2004. They have a chance, if all goes well, to take a 54-46 majority in the Upper House.
Now I may be getting ahead of myself here. Is it really feasible to expect Republicans to win all 8 of the toss-up races in 2012? At this point, it’s feasible, but not probable. I think Republicans have a very good chance to win the 5 races I mentioned earlier (Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin). It’s the other 3 races that are going to be the focal point of this Senatorial election.
Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts will be extremely close. In the end, they could all go Democratic, they could all go Republican, or they could split. The polls are so close right now that it’s almost impossible to tell who’s going to come out ahead. If I had to put down a bet, I would say that Scott Brown is defeated in Massachusetts but that Connie Mack wins in Florida and George Allen wins in Virginia. Such victories would likely put the Senate at a 53-47 split in favor of the Republicans.
In the end, I think the GOP’s chances to take control of the Senate are extremely high. At this point in time, I believe the Republicans will win the Senate in 2012. Of the most volatile Senate seats, only 3 have a good chance of voting Democratic, and a whopping 6 of the 8 toss-ups are either being vacated by or defended by Democrats.
This environment seems to have the makings of a perfect storm for Senate Republicans. Weak Democratic candidates, coupled with traditionally Republican states, have made victory attainable. As long as the Tea Party doesn’t get involved, I have a feeling that Harry Reid won’t be the Senate Majority Leader for much longer.