That said, let’s recall that at this time two years ago, Republicans also had an attractive playing field: They had to defend only 10 seats, while Democrats had to defend 23. And yet Democrats actually ended up netting two seats. Not to be overly cruel, but the GOP had to try hard to blow the Senate in 2012 — and their efforts were amply rewarded.
In order to capitalize on the new opportunities presented by the 2014 Senate map, Republican voters are going to have to make wiser choices in primaries than they made in 2010 and 2012. But has the party base learned its lesson? It is not at all clear, and efforts by the Republican leadership in D.C. to impose preferred candidates likely won’t be met well in many states in the next go-round either. At the same time, national Republicans will somehow need to prod their major 2012 donors to stay in the game, convincing them that they will get more bang for their bucks in ’14 despite all the wasted cash this cycle.
Perhaps more than anything else, Republicans will need a national wave, along the lines of what they had in November 2010 when, despite candidate problems in some states, they netted six Senate seats (seven if one counts Scott Brown’s special election victory in January 2010). For a net six close races to tip to the GOP in two years, it will take more than good candidates and favorable geography; the atmospherics of 2014 will have to be clearly Republican.