The man’s got a point, for once.
With the Senate seriously at risk, and the Koch Brothers spending prodigiously, shouldn't Dem funders be focused on '14 and not '16 races?
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 6, 2014
Awful lot of static aimed at Hillary lately from Team Hopenchange. First came this WSJ piece about Democrats being “unsettled” by all the fundraising attention pro-Clinton PACs have gotten lately, then came this buzzy BuzzFeed report about Obama’s aides knocking her emerging 2016 strategy. Then came the news that Democrats will get no help from Priorities USA this fall; they’re keeping their powder dry for the Clinton coronation. There’s a zero-sum game afoot: The earlier the Hillary! 2016 extravaganza gets going, the less attention wealthy donors will pay to this year’s Senate races, which raises the odds that any new Supreme Court appointments during the final two years of Obama’s term will have to face a Republican majority. If O thinks his second term can’t get any tougher, just wait.
But that’s not all. If you missed it a few weeks ago, read Sean Trende’s probability estimates for control of the Senate over the next two election cycles. There’s a huge number of vulnerable Republicans up in 2016, making it very likely that Democrats will control the Senate again when the new president is inaugurated in 2017. That depends in part on how many seats are lost this year, though; obviously, the better the GOP does in 2014, the higher the bar for Democrats to retake the Senate will be two years from now. By Trende’s calculation, Republicans could win as many as eight seats this fall and Democrats would still be more likely than not to reclaim a majority in 2016 even if a Republican wins the presidential election. If you assume a Democratic presidential victory, the Democrats could afford to lose as many as nine seats this year and still *probably* win back the Senate in 2016. Point being, the stakes of this election are high not only for Obama in his final two years but for Hillary herself if she ends up running and winning. Want to make sure President Clinton can ram through a bunch of liberals for her cabinet and court vacancies? Better make sure you ante up for the Senate races this year, then. That’s what Axelrod’s thinking about, but whether logic can blunt the imperative among would-be Clinton courtiers to suck up early and often, I don’t know.
Via NRO, here’s Axelrod demonstrating his worry about 2014 in another way, kinda sorta nudging red-state Democrats to cut Obama loose and do what they need to do to win. Exit question: Is there more to the early noisy Hillary boosterism than meets the eye? At first I thought it was all about manufacturing an aura of inevitability to make her path through the primaries easier, but that’s unnecessary. No one, not even lefty darling Elizabeth Warren, seriously threatens Hillary. Maybe top Democrats are convinced that she’s less likely to run than everyone thinks, whether for health reasons or fatigue from the demands public life, and they’ve concluded they need to twist her arm somehow to make her do it. Constructing a prefab campaign for her, replete with lots of congressional endorsements and billionaires waving their checkbooks to make it relatively easy, might do it. Too bad for Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu, though.