Harry Reid's plot to keep the Senate

With less ammunition to use against their incumbents, Democrats hope that enough of their members will survive.

“The two overriding issues that the public cares about are obstruction and bipartisanship but I don’t think the specifics of what happens in the Senate affects them as much as those two,” said Schumer, blaming the GOP for obstructing hot-button economic issues.

For that reason, Reid has scheduled votes on a politically populist agenda devised by Schumer aimed at forcing Republicans to block bills aimed at wooing students, women, seniors and the middle class. Democrats have repeatedly put forth bills that have little chance of passing — like on increasing the minimum wage, gender pay equity, contraception access and student loan assistance. And even when there are efforts they actually support — such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — Democratic leaders have lobbied the White House to punt on the issue to avoid hurting their vulnerable incumbents and candidates in red states.

Behind the scenes, the fundraising game has stepped up.