For several months, we’ve held steady on our range of expected gains for Republicans in the Senate: a net of four to eight seats. With Labor Day in the rearview mirror and with less than 55 days to go until the midterms, we’re giving Republicans a slight bump: Our new range is a Republican net of five to eight Senate seats.
This means that the best-case scenario we can now envision for Democrats is a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with Vice President Joe Biden’s tiebreaking vote narrowly keeping Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as majority leader.
It’s lonely at the top of the Republican field — like, “top of Mt. Everest” lonely.
In our latest shuffle of the 2016 Crystal Ball presidential outlook, we’ve decided that the Republican first tier is…empty. Our Republican friends might object, but deep down, we think they would be hard-pressed to argue for any single name to head this long list: There’s simply no one in the field who is clearly more likely to get the nomination than a half-dozen or more others.
The overall picture is this: A Republican Senate gain of four-to-eight seats, with a GOP Senate pickup of six-to-seven seats the likeliest outcome; a GOP gain of somewhere around a half-dozen seats in the House; and little net party change in the gubernatorial lineup even as a few incumbents lose. So what could shift these projections in a significant way, beyond candidate implosions that move individual races on and off the board?
Royal Blue Hawaii and Ruby Red Kansas are two of the most predictable states in presidential and Senate elections. Yet both states have incumbent governors from the dominant parties who are fighting for their political lives. What gives?
Analysts always strain to generalize about elections. We want to “model” them, find the common elements, and project them as early as possible based on the commonalities. That’s a legitimate approach, but we need always remember that every election is different. Every single one.
If Republicans are to win the Senate, they probably are going to have to do something they haven’t done since 1980: beat more than two Democratic Senate incumbents in November.
Establishment Republicans across the country are saying “Thank God for Mississippi,” but not in the derisive way that political scientist V.O. Key describes it above. The state’s Republican voters, and probably quite a few Democrats, allowed the GOP establishment to fend off a Tea Party challenge to a sitting senator. In the process, they kept Democrats from potentially expanding the Senate’s general election playing field in November and from giving anti-establishment forces in the Republican Senate caucus another ally.
Mississippi, a state often ignored by the national political world, managed to do something rarely seen in politics: Produce two upsets in the same race in a three-week span. And it bucked a trend of generally pathetic turnout in primaries nationwide to produce the second and then first-largest primary turnouts in the history of Mississippi Republican politics.
Mississippi, a trailblazing leader in voter participation? It has been a very odd primary season indeed.
Election Day 2014 is now almost exactly seven months away, which is both near and far.
On the one hand, more than half of the states –29 of 50 — have passed their filing deadlines for major party candidates (the deadline in a 30th, Tennessee, is today). The late entries of Rep. Cory Gardner (R, CO-4) and ex-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) into, respectively, the Colorado and New Hampshire Senate races are probably the last major candidate announcements we’re going to see this cycle, barring a late retirement or other big surprise. So the playing field is basically set.
In our first ranking of the very large and very unsettled 2016 Republican presidential field back in April of last year, we decided to not even include the name of one of the brightest stars in the GOP universe: Jeb Bush. We just didn’t think, at the time, that the former Florida governor and brother and son of presidents was all that interested in running.
But during 2013 and into this new year, we’ve gotten the sense, like many others, that things might be changing. So much so that we now consider Bush the leader of the field if he decides to run.
Rep.-elect David Jolly (R, FL-13) overcame money, some internal division among Republicans, and a name recognition and prestige deficit to defeat Alex Sink (D) in a much-watched special election in Florida’s Tampa-area 13th Congressional District Tuesday night.