Senate analysis: What does “success” look like for the GOP in 2014?

posted at 8:41 pm on July 23, 2014 by Guy Benson

As the 2014 campaign’s home stretch approaches, national Republicans have launched a ‘Fire Reid’ campaign, akin to the successful 2010 push to oust Nancy Pelosi from the House speakership.  Will they succeed?  And how should conservatives define success, in light of the very challenging Senate map that awaits in 2016?  The great Dan McLaughlin spells out his metrics:

As I responded on Twitter, pegging a net gain of seven seats as the benchmark for success could be a recipe for disappointment.  Based on polls measuring the mood of the ‘battleground’ electorate, Republicans certainly have a distinct advantage heading into the fall.  But polling of the individual races thus far (such as it exists) does not portend a red Senate wave that’s remotely reminiscent of the party’s 2010 performance in House races.  Republicans appear to have three open seats locked down in South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana — though two new polls show the gap in that contest narrowing (er, see the update below).  The GOP is also favored to hang onto seats in Kentucky and Georgia, but neither race will be a cake walk.  North Carolina’s Kay Hagan enjoys a thin but steady lead over Thom Tillis (click through for Jay Cost’s thoughtful analysis of the race).  In Arkansas, Rep. Tom Cotton has led in a slew of recent surveys, but his overall edge is less than three points.  Sen. Mark Pryor is hanging around, unlike Blanche Lincoln, who was getting thrashed at this stage by her Republican opponent-turned-successor four years ago.  RCP’s polling average has Alaska’s Senate race exactly tied.  Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu is slightly down, but certainly not out, in a race that could easily spill into a December run-off, given the state’s “jungle primary” system. So let’s say Republicans hold the line on the seats they currently control, and don’t fritter away any of the aforementioned open seats;  they’re sitting at +3.  If they end up sweeping the seats listed above in bold font, or winning three of those four, they’ve secured a majority.  Anything beyond that would be gravy.  But what if they win half of them — an outcome that strikes me as entirely possible, if not probable.  That puts them at +5, needing one more pick-up to demote Harry Reid.  Where might that elusive sixth seat come from?  Two viable possibilities:

Iowa: Hawkeye State conservative Joni Ernst has gained steadily on Democrat Bruce Braley, pulling ahead of him by a fractional margin over the last few weeks.  Braley is, well, a bit of a jerk (see here, here, here and here), and his campaign is being forced to answer uncomfortable questions about why he missed 75 percent of House Veterans Affairs Committee meetings over a two year period.  Braley technically serves on the committee.  The Des Moines Register reports that Braley appears to have skipped one such meeting in favor of attending three fundraisers for himself.  His VA truancy is not only attracting scrutiny in light of the agency’s ongoing scandal, but also because Ernst is a soldier.  In fact, she’s taken a leave of absence from the campaign trail to fulfill her annual National Guard training duties.  Talk about a contrast.

Colorado: Out in Rocky Mountain country, Republican Cory Gardner is running neck-and-neck with incumbent Mark Udall.  The Democratic Senator has gone to great lengths to avoid being seen with President Obama — with whom he’s voted 99 percent of the time — including no-showing at his own fundraiser.  For a challenger taking on an incumbent who was seen as relatively safe until very recently, Gardner is in a very healthy position. And that’s despite Udall’s barrage of “war on women” ads against the conservative Congressman (click through for Gardner’s responses).

Could Ernst and Gardner both win?  Sure.  But they could just as easily both lose, and the odds of securing additional pick-ups seem a bit more remote at this stage: Terri Lynn Land is struggling in Michigan, Scott Brown has a fair amount of ground to make up in New Hampshire (not an impossible feat), and Dr. Monica Wehby has trailed in every recent Oregon poll.  Minnesota and Virginia are looking like even longer shots.  All of which is to say that the path to gaining six or more seats is extremely plausible, but by no means guaranteed.  Watch Larry Sabato explain why 2014 is only shaping up to be a “mildly Republican year, at least in mid-July:”

I’ll leave you with a (qualified) positive data point, followed by a sobering reminder.  Pay attention to the GOP’s lead in tiers two and three, which represent eight contested races:

Given historical trends and the president’s unpopularity (especially where it counts), Republicans should be able to hit six.  If things break late in the right direction (totally possible), I agree with McLaughlin that seven or eight seats isn’t out of the question.  But it’s a heavier lift than it seems.  For that reason, I’m going with a more straightforward rubric for success: Minority Leader Reid is a win, no matter how it happens.  Majority Leader Reid, even in a 50/50 chamber, is a failure.

UPDATE - This should kill off any chances of a Democratic comeback in Montana:

Look on the bright side, John. You could still be Vice President someday.  (UPDATE II – I now see that Allah wrote this story up earlier, and even beat me to my super original Biden joke).


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I now see that Allah wrote this story up earlier, and even beat me to my super original Biden joke).

Allah knows what you are going to write before you do. He has Presidential powers.

faraway on July 23, 2014 at 8:49 PM

You want to “fire” Majority Leader Reid? Beat him in 2016.

Any other “firing” is temporary.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 23, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Don’t forget the weasel factor to offset Moocowski, Miss Lindsey, Collins and several other reliably unreliables.

Plus, there would be a definite need to relieve Turtle of any leadership capacity.

viking01 on July 23, 2014 at 8:52 PM

Nothing says “We are on your side in the fight for the Senate” like ramming Thad Cochrane down the throat of Mississippi voters.

Rix on July 23, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Success=No Tea Party candidates winning.

-GOP

DontDroneMeBro on July 23, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Senate analysis: What does “success” look like for the GOP in 2014?

Booting Reid from the majority leader position and if the tea party f- ‘s that up they will be ion my s- list from here on in.

V7_Sport on July 23, 2014 at 8:56 PM

As many lifers as possible get reelected so the GOP’s long-term strategy of holding Dog Eater responsible in the year 2048 can be realized.

Bishop on July 23, 2014 at 8:57 PM

It’s really adorable that you think the GOP will win any seats after this crap they’re pulling with amnesty.

Prediction: Dems win House and Senate in November.

Mr. Arrogant on July 23, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Booting Reid from the majority leader position and if the tea party f- ‘s that up they will be ion my s- list from here on in.

V7_Sport on July 23, 2014 at 8:56 PM

What are you going to do, refuse to vote for them more than you’re refusing to vote for them now?

Bishop on July 23, 2014 at 8:59 PM

What are you going to do, refuse to vote for them more than you’re refusing to vote for them now?

Bishop on July 23, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Don’t worry Bishop, we’ll find that hill to die on one of these days.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 23, 2014 at 9:04 PM

We should win 8. Anything less is failure.

Raquel Pinkbullet on July 23, 2014 at 9:12 PM

I now see that Allah wrote this story up earlier, and even beat me to my super original Biden joke


Worse news?
AP has had the RINO Eeyore post locked down on HA for years … this is pretty weak sauce, Guy.

Nothing says “We are on your side in the fight for the Senate” like ramming Thad Cochrane down the throat of Mississippi voters.

Rix on July 23, 2014 at 8:53 PM


The ONE SURE THING
you can count on the GOPe/RINO’s/GOPe-media having a complete blind spot on … is how much anger they have WILLFULLY created among conservatives with the Mississippi Maneuver.

Their latest olive branch is a few talking heads saying HENRY Barbour must be PUNISHED … but then everyone needs to go out and “Vote for who WE tell you to vote for”.

My reply?

Dear elected Republican officeholders,

You know this famous quote:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Your “Do Nothing” option is OFF the table. The Mississippi Senate Primary runoff on June 28th showed the GOP establishment (GOPe) is owned by their large donors and their “Elites” agenda.

YOU can change this by acting en masse quickly to publicly demand the non-elected GOP officials denounce Cochran and demand his withdrawal from the race. But if you believe you can continue to “Do Nothing” , WE have an option you won’t like.

On June 29th on Hot Air, I noticed one of our eternally patient, true conservatives on that site had joined the Let.It.Burn camp – the view there is nothing to be done to stop this country’s fall – which resulted in me having an epiphany.

The GOPe is perfectly happy with Let.It.Burn because it’s passive rather than active in nature. They expect it to cost the Democrats more net votes than the GOPe candidates and they just ran their “proof of concept” test case on how to defeat true conservatives.

So now it it time to change from the passive Let.It.Burn … … and to an all encompassing, everywhere on the map voting against ANY GOPe candidate running for anything from “dog catcher to U.S. Senator” as long as the Republican Party Establishment lets stand the Mississippi outcome from June 28th.

Or in a shorter, specifically targeting term you can relate to …

Burn.It.Down

PolAgnostic on July 23, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Unconditional loyalty got us in the mess were in now. Anytime the GOP feels they have something locked up, it’ll be business as usual. Why elect new lifers who lay down in front of Democrats and the media? Sadly this entire post misses the point? What happens after they get a majority?

Dongemaharu on July 23, 2014 at 9:13 PM

What will Republicans do differently if they win control of the Senate? Will they have a budget showdown with Obama in order to cut spending, or will they simply claim that we need to wait until they win the Presidency?

And then if they win the Presidency in 2016, will they then claim that we need to wait until the win the media?

Please, I’d like to get answers to this question.

corkie on July 23, 2014 at 9:13 PM

6??? That ain’t no magic number. A RINO or two will cross the line, remember history people. Safe margin is a 4 advantage. Seriously we need to have a 54/46 or there will be some stupid co-equal sharing becauese fair for the fascist democrats.

jukin3 on July 23, 2014 at 9:14 PM

What happens after they get a majority?

Dongemaharu on July 23, 2014 at 9:13 PM

I wish you had hit Submit after me, but I hope we both get answers to our questions.

corkie on July 23, 2014 at 9:14 PM

Success for the GOPe would be many, many more democrats vote for them because the GOPe is better at being liberal than the liberals are, then completely flushing the USA down the toilet to become Mexicanada.

Diluculo on July 23, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Doesn’t a slim majority mean Collins can sell her vote for a higher minimum bid?

viking01 on July 23, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Minority Leader Reid is a win, no matter how it happens.

+ 100..Hear!..Hear!!..We (GOP) need the Senate majority..:)

Dire Straits on July 23, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Remember us tea party folks y’all have attacked and treated like carp.You know,making it clear we’re not wanted in your party?Yep that’s us,the ones that are staying home this November to make sure you never forget Ihow you treated us.Win back the Senate?LMTPAO!

redware on July 23, 2014 at 9:28 PM

Doesn’t a slim majority mean Collins can sell her vote for a higher minimum bid?

viking01 on July 23, 2014 at 9:20 PM

LoLz..You make a point although I really don’t see a “Tea Partier” winning in Maine..So we will just have to live with that possibility..:)

Dire Straits on July 23, 2014 at 9:29 PM

I wouldn’t count on a Cochran win just yet…

d1carter on July 23, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Republicans would be remiss not to push the theme that a vote for a Democratic Senator is a vote for Harry Reid and DEADLOCK.

GarandFan on July 23, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Well….if nothing else, Turtle man Mitch will prolly get to retire finally.
That’s a positive.

FlaMurph on July 23, 2014 at 9:42 PM

Obvious.

Take the Senate.

Lose McConnell.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:43 PM

PolAgnostic on July 23, 2014 at 9:12 PM

I am voting for Alison Hyphenated-Dash-name instead of McConnell.

He STILL must go.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Allah wrote this story up earlier, and even beat me to my super original Biden joke).

Hard to top the Master of Snark.

Cindy Munford on July 23, 2014 at 9:45 PM

I wouldn’t count on a Cochran win just yet…

d1carter on July 23, 2014 at 9:29 PM

After being called RAAAAAACIST!!!! by the GOPe, if I lived in Mississippi, I would not show up to vote for Thad the drooler.

And as a Kentuckian, I am NOT voting for Mitch McConnell who orchestrated that disgrace.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:46 PM

Hard to top the Master of Snark.

Cindy Munford on July 23, 2014 at 9:45 PM

You have that right..One of the best..:)

Dire Straits on July 23, 2014 at 9:51 PM

I wonder how many of those democrat black voters who supported Senile Thad in the runoff vote for him in the general?

He’s going to need them, Mitch and Prince, or he’s gone still.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:53 PM

My belief is, there shouldn’t be one Democrat win, after what they’ve done to the country. The Obamacare law was written by people who don’t care about the country and they should be held responsible by voting them out of office. Senators, whose desire is to keep the country divided so they can maintain their power (and keep Harry Reid as the Majority Leader) should be fired, the damage they’ve done to the country can’t be measured easily because the repercussions will remain for years.

Victory looks like no wins for Democrats and any Democrat win is a loss.

bflat879 on July 23, 2014 at 9:54 PM

My belief is, there shouldn’t be one Democrat win, after what they’ve done to the country. The Obamacare law was written by people who don’t care about the country and they should be held responsible by voting them out of office. Senators, whose desire is to keep the country divided so they can maintain their power (and keep Harry Reid as the Majority Leader) should be fired, the damage they’ve done to the country can’t be measured easily because the repercussions will remain for years.

Victory looks like no wins for Democrats and any Democrat win is a loss.

bflat879 on July 23, 2014 at 9:54 PM

I lost all hope of this country getting out of this morass without violent revolution after the 2012 election.

There is no Fluking way Obama EVER should have won re-election unless more than half this nation had lost it. That election never should have been CLOSE…

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:56 PM

With Obama’s record, along with Ds,winning the senate should be a slam dunk. The fact it isn’t shows how pathetic the Republican party has become.

I do hope Joni Ernst wins.

cat_owner on July 23, 2014 at 10:05 PM

With Obama’s record, along with Ds,winning the senate should be a slam dunk. The fact it isn’t shows how pathetic the Republican party has become.

I do hope Joni Ernst wins.

cat_owner on July 23, 2014 at 10:05 PM

If the GOPe had repudiated the US Chamber of Crony Capitalism’s amnesty ultimatum and NOT interfered in Mississippi a filibuster proof majority was possible.

Now any kind of majority at all would be a massive upset.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Booting Reid from the majority leader position and if the tea party f- ‘s that up they will be ion my s- list from here on in.

V7_Sport on July 23, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Yeah, you probably should have been more concerned about that 4 years ago when the GOPe had a chance to drop that creep from the Senate entirely, but chose to waste its efforts on fools errands like Fiorina in California instead. Meanwhile, I’m sure the tea party will manage to survive being on your “s-list”…somehow.

fitzfong on July 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM

I think there’s a reason that Reid decided to pull the trigger on the filibuster…he knows that the left is going to control the Senate for a long time. Any race that’s within 5 points can and will be swung by the left…so all those ‘plausible’ races are just talking points until we get to the election. No doubt the RINO party might pick up a couple…maybe back up to 47. Yay for us!!!!

so settle in people…don’t get trapped in the pretend games that the RINOs play….oh, and don’t worry about them, they’ll be just fine. In or out of office they’ll be making tons more money than you could ever dream of

r keller on July 23, 2014 at 10:20 PM

I’m sure the tea party will manage to survive being on your “s-list”…somehow.

fitzfong on July 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM


Something tells me they would ALL be highly amused at an egocentric GOPe-backing commenter putting them on that list.

PolAgnostic on July 23, 2014 at 10:21 PM

they’ll be making TAKING tons more money than you could ever dream of

r keller on July 23, 2014 at 10:20 PM

.
You had a typo … FIFY

PolAgnostic on July 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM

I lost all hope of this country getting out of this morass without violent revolution after the 2012 election.

There is no Fluking way Obama EVER should have won re-election unless more than half this nation had lost it. That election never should have been CLOSE…

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Yeah, well he did. What does that tell you about most of the people around you?

As for any notions of violent revolution, that won’t get us out of anything. Revolt against who exactly? The Bonus Marchers weren’t revolutionaries at all and look how the Feds handled them. You wouldn’t get within a 100 miles of them nowadays. If you do, it’s because you’re part of a group that’s OK with them, that is, a bunch of Libs and/or Communists wanting to protest. If the boyz in the hood take to the streets, I’m pretty confident that the police will simply surround those blocks and do nothing much about it.

I share your frustration, but I think we’ll have to let the sheeple en masse do whatever it is they’re going to do. The system will bear only so much stress, and will adjust in order to relieve that stress. Though, what we end up with probably won’t be what we want.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 23, 2014 at 10:33 PM

I share your frustration, but I think we’ll have to let the sheeple en masse do whatever it is they’re going to do. The system will bear only so much stress, and will adjust in order to relieve that stress. Though, what we end up with probably won’t be what we want.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 23, 2014 at 10:33 PM

At some point the serfs (us) are going to stop consenting to work and have half (or more) of our not increasing wages confiscated to feed those who won’t work.

That will be the revolution.

What will Obama do? Start shooting us for refusing to work?

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 10:39 PM

After being called RAAAAAACIST!!!! by the GOPe, if I lived in Mississippi, I would not show up to vote for Thad the drooler.

And as a Kentuckian, I am NOT voting for Mitch McConnell who orchestrated that disgrace.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 9:46 PM

THANK Y.O.U.

Jayrae on July 23, 2014 at 10:59 PM

At some point the serfs (us) are going to stop consenting to work and have half (or more) of our not increasing wages confiscated to feed those who won’t work.

That will be the revolution.

What will Obama do? Start shooting us for refusing to work?

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Definitely-starve the government Beast.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 23, 2014 at 11:02 PM

they’ll be making TAKING tons more money than you could ever dream of

r keller on July 23, 2014 at 10:20 PM

.
You had a typo … FIFY

PolAgnostic on July 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM

When the dollar collapses we will ALL be billionaires.

Though it won’t mean much.

ConstantineXI on July 23, 2014 at 11:40 PM

..ain’t about to dump on Guy as being an Eeyore. I did that once before on the evening of November 6th, 2012 during the Huge Hewittless show (*spits*) and I have had ashes in my mouth ever since.

There’s this creepy feeling I get that the NRSC will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and we’ll get that puking, mewling child molester leading the Senate through 2016 and beyond.

The War Planner on July 24, 2014 at 1:27 AM

There’s this creepy feeling I get that the NRSC will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and we’ll get that puking, mewling child molester leading the Senate through 2016 and beyond.

The War Planner on July 24, 2014 at 1:27 AM

Again, if your sole raison d’etre is removing Harry Reid from the position of Majority Leader, then you better beat him in 2016. It’s going to take a monumental effort to keep the Senate GOP-led in 2016, and that’s assuming we manage to flip it this November.

Not sure why Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is so much better, though.

Good Solid B-Plus on July 24, 2014 at 2:02 AM

Success looks like a sixty seat majority so we can override his veto.

casaler on July 24, 2014 at 7:56 AM

casaler
Success looks like a sixty seat majority so we can override his veto.

A 60 seat “majority” dependent on Murkowski, Hatch, Cochran, McConnell, Collins, Alexander, Cornyn, Graham, Kirk and McCain to override his veto? More likely they’ll serve as the escort service to keep the veto intact if they’re needed to.

fitzfong on July 24, 2014 at 10:01 AM

The Republicans have the ability to wipe out the Democrats in this election. The word amnesty is all they need to focus on. Blue collar families have suffered the most under this economic regime. Focus of their needs and you win. Make no mistake, amnesty is number one on the people’s agenda of economic angst.

The question is do you run on the people’s agenda or the chamber of commerce’s?

The best approach is to have the ‘worst’ case Republicans (those with very long odds of winning (Scott Brown anyone!)) run on amnesty. You will see results similar to prop 187 and 209 in the super blue state of California. I guarantee it!

However, just like in 1998 they will focus on Obama’s message and run on the wars (which the people agree with Obama on) and other messages such as tax inversion and lose it all. Because when it comes to choosing between sure winners like the ACA and amnesty, the ayatollahs in charge will choose more ‘nuanced’ messages like defense and taxes on the rich, which the people will ‘understand’ better as an ‘ideas’ message.

oarmas on July 26, 2014 at 11:45 AM