Winning the Senate looking tougher than expected for Democrats

Democrats have a favorable map in 2016 which should give them a strong chance of retaking the Senate this year. However, the Associated Press reports that some Democrats now believe their path for doing so is narrowing:

Although most Democrats still express confidence that they will win back the Senate majority in November, they now appear to have fewer paths to victory as wins in Ohio and even Florida look increasingly remote.

And if they do win back control, it could end up being with the narrowest of margins, even a 50-50 Senate with a Vice President Tim Kaine casting tie-breaking votes for the Democrats, if Hillary Clinton becomes president…

Jim Manley, a Democratic consultant and former top Reid aide, suggested that he and others were growing less optimistic about a Senate flip. “I still think it’s going to happen, because the Trump campaign is going to prove toxic to the Republican Party, but it may prove to be tougher than many Democrats were thinking a few months ago,” Manley said.

Democrats need to win four seats if Hillary Clinton wins the White House or five if Trump wins. That should have been relatively easy this year as Republicans have 24 seats in play and Democrats have only ten. But the AP reports a Republican money advantage and a weak candidate at the top of the ticket have made things tougher than expected.

If this year’s fight for control of the Senate is looking like a squeaker, Democrats face a very different map in 2018. One unnamed Democratic strategist tells Politico “it’s going to be a disaster.”

As difficult as the 2016 Senate map has been for Republicans, who had to defend numerous blue- and purple-state seats and could lose their majority, Democrats’ 2018 map looks practically unnavigable. The party starts with five ruby-red seats to defend: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. Then, Democrats have a slew of Senate seats up in traditional swing states, including Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin. If he doesn’t become vice president, Tim Kaine will also face reelection in closely divided Virginia in 2018. And if he does, a Democratic appointee could face an expensive special election in 2017 before the race for a full term the next year…

“[Democrats] have not figured out how to translate presidential success into midterm success. And even worse, this time we have a candidate who is winning by default,” said one Democratic strategist who has worked on Senate races. “It’s going to be a disaster.”

So even if they achieve a narrow win this year, chances are good Republicans would take the Senate back two years later.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on May 27, 2023