Trende: A Republican Senate takeover isn’t just a hypothetical anymore
posted at 12:17 pm on July 15, 2013 by Guy Benson
The GOP path to 51 seats instead flows through four Democratic incumbents running for re-election in three red states and one purplish-red state: Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. If Montana were still a likely Democratic hold, Republicans would need to defeat all four of these incumbents. To put this in perspective, Republicans haven’t defeated four Democratic incumbents in all the elections from 2004 through 2012 combined. Still, given the lineup and the president’s precarious positioning in red states, it is at least plausible…Montana is now a race that the GOP probably should win; if it doesn’t we probably don’t even need to talk about the other four. (Think of it this way: We technically have to consider the possibility Republicans might win seats in Iowa and Michigan, but if they do that, the Senate has probably already gone Republican.) The Republican Party is significantly more likely to defeat three of the four incumbents discussed above than it is to defeat all four. For the first time this cycle, we can discuss a GOP takeover of the upper chamber in more than hypothetical terms.
My analysis at Townhall broadly mirrors Trende’s. The GOP’s best shot at displacing Harry Reid as majority leader comes through sweeping the open seats in states carried heavily by Romney (MT, WV, SD) and beating three of the four vulnerable red state Democrats mentioned above. Trende cautiously pegs Republicans’ chances of doing so at 30 percent, which feels about right to me at this stage. Two important qualifiers: (1) It’s very early and the national mood could shift considerably one way or the other over the next 15 months. (2) Republicans have managed to choke away a race or two (or three!) over each the last few cycles. For those reasons, I’d still place the over/under for seats gained at four. Though I might pick the over — five really appears to be eminently doable — that all-important sixth victory could end up proving elusive.