by Rod D. Martin
September 19, 2018
I sounded the alarm yesterday about the House. A large majority of Republicans believe the Democrats won’t win this fall, which means they may become complacent, which will surely result in the Democrats winning the House this fall. We must do everything we can to avert that needless disaster.
But what about the Senate? Needless to say, the same phenomenon affects both Houses, but it certainly doesn’t affect the Senate to the same degree.
Currently, 48 Republican seats either safe or not on the ballot at all, vs. 37 for the Democrats. That’s a big hurdle for the Democrats. But there’s more.
Right now, RCP is calling 9 toss-ups, counting Texas (and I don’t, but I will for this purpose). That means Republicans have to win just two of the toss-ups (net) to hold the Senate.
Every one of the toss-ups is highly winnable for Republicans, and Wisconsin and West Virginia are also winnable (though I don’t think we’ll win either of them). New Jersey has actually moved into range, so we have to pay attention to it: Gravis has it a 2-point race, Quinnipiac has it 6. Again, doubtful, but not impossible. Ditto for the Smith-Housley race in Minnesota, where the average of polls has Smith (D) leading by 6.7%, but the race may be more interesting than that.
On our side, again, it’s overwhelmingly likely that we hold Texas: even left-leaning Quinnipiac now has this R+9, with Ted Cruz at 54%. I think we win Florida and North Dakota without much problem (though DeSantis needs help against Gillum, and could be a drag on Rick Scott if he doesn’t get it). I think Montana’s winnable either way, but I think Tester loses if he votes against Kavanaugh and may feel like he has to because of the (fake) scandal. Braun’s ahead in Indiana, Hawley’s ahead in Missouri, Heller’s within the margin of error in Nevada, and though there’s a bad poll that has McSally down by 7 in Arizona all the others have her ahead or down by no more than 3.
There’s real reason to be concerned we could lose Tennessee. But we could lose Tennessee and still realistically gain a net 5 seats (for a total of 56), which is to say, if Blackburn pulls it out — and it’s tied right now, as opposed to D+18 a few months ago — that could be net 6 (and a total of 57). We can also lose Tennessee, Arizona AND Nevada and still realistically gain a net 3 (for a total of 54). And for that matter, we could even flip three Rs to D and three Ds to R — a realistic scenario, though not one I’m predicting — and net out exactly where we are now: 51-49.
Oh, and don’t forget: 50-50 means we win. The Vice President breaks ties, so Republicans keep the majority. This is exactly what happened in 2000. Again, unlikely, but worth remembering.
Could we lose the Senate? Sure, but only if there really is not just a #BlueWave but a #BlueTsunami.
And by the way, at the far outside, if there were actually the #RedWave I’m not predicting (but some are), you could have a 61 seat Republican Senate. No kidding. Highly unlikely, but not at all impossible. And it’s actually more likely than the 53 seat Democrat Senate which is their maximum possible this year.
So, as of this writing:
1. We should gain Senate seats, probably something between net 3 and net 6 (54 to 57 seat majority, with 55 being the all-time Republican high in modern times thus far).
2. Our maximum possible upside is 61 seats.
3. Their maximum possible upside is 53.
So we should have a good year, at least in the Senate. But if Republicans put too much stock in this and stay home, they will lose the House — maybe the Senate too — and then it will be all-impeachment-all-the-time for at least two years.
So take all of this as encouragement to action, not complacency. We can actually win big, if we don’t screw it up. (But we’re Republicans, so we usually find a way to screw it up.)