The reasons for this advantage are varied. The electoral map is favorable to GOP candidates, with battlegrounds located mainly in states Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Democrats can win only by running well ahead of President Obama’s approval ratings, which range from the 30s to mid-40s. During the primary season, the GOP managed to weed out its most disturbing and gaffe-prone candidates. (In this cycle, it was a Democrat, gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis of Texas, who expressed her progressivism by attacking her paralyzed opponent with an ad featuring an empty wheelchair.) The midterm electorate naturally skews more Republican. And compounding matters for Democrats, the issue environment during this election season has been toxic: the Obamacare launch, the Veterans Affairs scandal, the rise of the Islamic State and the spread of Ebola fears. Good luck talking about the minimum wage.
Democrats put on their game face and boast of their ground game — get-out-the-vote efforts that could limit GOP gains. Some strong Democratic candidates could beat the odds in red states — perhaps in the Georgia Senate race, where the Republican, David Perdue, struggles (like Romney before him) to explain his role in the “creative destruction” wrought by capitalism. But the electoral current runs strongly against Democrats, who are left jumping up the falls like salmon.
With a gain of 13 seats in the House (an outside shot), Republicans would have their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president. If Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is reelected and Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas pulls out a victory, some conservatives will claim a vindication of hard-core, conservative governance. And the assumption of Senate control, with its spoils of committees and staff, is always a heady experience.