GOP Shouldn’t Just Accept Senate Victory
Republicans will win a U.S. Senate majority this November, but, lacking a strategy other than "not them," the GOP may miss a larger opportunity.
Presently holding 45 of 100, Republicans need six additional seats to win a Senate majority. Because Democrats have all but conceded current Democratic seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, the GOP "floor" is 48 Senate seats.
Real Clear Politics lists Democratic seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina as "toss-ups." In none of those states has the incumbent polled at or close to 50 percent, a very bad sign for Democrats. In mid-term elections, undecided votes usually break to out-party challengers.
If Republicans run the table on toss-ups , they’ll seat 55 senators in January.
Polling averages suggest that the GOP will take 52 Senate seats. Nate Silver’s 538.com blog predicts a Republican majority. The New York Times "Upshot" model put Republican odds at 65 percent.
Republican Senate control could encourage some party-switching.
From the Washington Post: "(Maine’s Independent) Angus King suggests he may caucus with (the) GOP if they retake the (S)enate." Red-state West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin might be similarly inspired.
The prospect of influential Senate committee appointments focuses political calculus (See: Specter, Arlen).
The GOP establishment got the "electable" candidates it wanted but has taken a relatively passive approach to Senate campaigns in the apparent belief that the president’s unpopularity, inept domestic and foreign policies, a stagnant economy and years of Democratic overreach will deliver a majority.
They’re probably right, but, through passivity, the GOP may miss a larger Senate majority than Democrats’ political malfeasance can deliver.
"Not them" is an advantage, but Republicans haven’t articulated what a GOP Senate would do differently.
For openers, Republicans should make November a referendum on border security and amnesty.
And just running against Obamacare unsettles persuadable voters who fear losing new health coverage. Fiscal conservatives fear Republicans will settle for Obamacare-light.
There is no clearer example of governmental incompetence and political misprision than Obamacare, for which Senate Democrats facing re-election voted. It should be among 2014’s key issues.
Republicans avoid specifics because they have revealed no consolidated plan to reform or replace Obamacare. The GOP would benefit from an agreed-upon health plan to reassure voters that repeal and/or replacement would eliminate Obamacare’s unpopular features — the individual mandate, the exchanges, rationing, mandated "essential-benefits," new taxes — and replace them with comprehensive market-based benefits and choices that avoid the flaws of America’s old health care system.
Turnout is key in midterm elections. Well-constructed, easily understood incremental plans for immigration and regulatory reform, defense spending, tax code simplification and job growth would flesh out a robust strategy to energize the GOP’s base, attract and persuade fence-sitters and win an even larger Senate majority.
Disaffected voters will reward a confident, optimistic, growth-and-reform governing agenda.
Republicans need one for 2016.