This year’s midterm elections are centered around the battle between the Republicans and the Democrats to have control of the Senate for the two final years of President Obama’s term. The GOP have been confident of their ability to gain control of the Senate this November, but that should not be taken as an indication that there is a significant shift to the right in the political thinking of voters, it is simply a matter of timing. The 33 seats that are being contested this year (plus 3 special elections, but I do not expect any of those – Hawaii (Dem.), South Carolina (Rep.) and Oklahoma (Rep.) to change hands) were last up for grabs in 2008, when President Obama won by a landslide and helped sway the vote in some states where Democrats have not traditionally done well. Also, at a time when Congress has a 14% approval rating, being an incumbent is not so much of an advantage anymore and 20 of the 33 Senate seats up for election have Democratic incumbents. This will all shift in 2016, when the seats that were last contested in 2010 – a year when the Tea Party movement was at its apex and helped the GOP perform outstandingly in a midterm election – will see 24 Republican Senators facing re-election contests, compared with just 10 Democrats. Since that will also be a Presidential election with no incumbent running for the White House, turnout is likely to be high, something that currently favors the Democrats – if you want proof of that, it is the GOP who are moving to disenfranchise people by limiting early voting and introducing barriers prevent some from being able to cast votes in several states, under the guise of preventing (virtually non-existent) voter fraud.
Here is what we know the 114th Congress will look likely come next January, before a single one of the 2014 Senate election votes is counted:
House of Representatives: Control will be maintained by the Republican party, regardless of how the actual vote goes. In 2012, Democrats won 201 seats to the GOP’s 234, despite the fact that they won a total of 1,417,278 more votes than the Republicans in Congressional ballots. That is thanks to the redistricting efforts from 2010, which led to huge gerrymandering – something that both parties are to blame for and is completely counter to the democratic process. If you do not think it’s a problem, I invite you to look at the following districts (out of many I could have chosen): North Carolina 12th; Illinois 4th; Pennsylvania 7th; and Texas 35th.
*Both current Independent Senators, Angus King (ME) and Bernie Sanders (VT) caucus with the Democrats, though as the pictured quote shows, Senator Sanders is open to changing that fact…but probably not.
2014 Senate Elections
Safe Democrats Seats
Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Hawaii (Special Election) – Total = 11
Perhaps with the exception of Michigan, none of these have the remotest chance of switching to Republican, even with turnout being lower in a midterm contest. Senator Cory Booker won a special election in 2013 and the former Mayor of Newark – who one day soon could be on a Presidential ticket, perhaps as a VP candidate – should easily win a full term to represent the state of New Jersey.
Safe Republican Seats
Alabama, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma (Special Election), South Carolina, South Carolina (Special Election), Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming – Total = 12
As you can see, both Oklahoma and South Carolina are having two Senate contests this November, as they replace Sen. Tom Coburn (OK – retiring) and Sen. Jim DeMint (SC, who left in 2013 to head up the Heritage Foundation) and the GOP will win all four of those seats. Alabama is going to be the least exciting contest in the nation, as Senator Jeff Sessions is running unopposed. In Mississippi, Senator Thad Cochran only narrowly avoided losing to even further-right candidate Chris McDaniels in the primary (McDaniels won 49.5% of the vote to Cochran’s 49% – but 50% was needed to avoid a run off) but a place that still has the Confederate flag as part of the design of the state’s flag, is not going to be won by a Democrat anytime soon.
Current Tally: Democrats + Independents 45; Republican 42 Continue reading