Senate Control Slipping Away from Democrats

The last thing Barack Obama wants to see happen is for the Democrats to lose control of the Senate. When he was first elected in 2008, the Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House. Within two years the American people started to turn away from Obama and Republicans won control of the House quite handily. In 2012, the gap between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate narrowed, but not enough to wrestle control away.

With less than two weeks left before the 2014 midterm elections, it’s looking more and more like the Democrats are going to lose control of the Senate, making Obama a lame duck leader for his final two years. Republican control of both the Senate and House could hobble Obama’s efforts to get anything passed through Congress, forcing him to use more executive orders which could also place him in greater danger of legal challenges.

At the beginning of the year it didn’t seem like Republicans stood much of a chance of winning control of the Senate. As the year has progressed, Obama’s popularity and approval ratings have steadily fallen to near record lows. It’s gotten so bad that a growing number of Democrats are trying to distance themselves from Obama as they see him as an anchor weighing down their chances of winning their respective elections.

With just under two weeks left before the election, the chances of a GOP victory in the Senate are looming greater and greater each and every day. Dean Chambers with the Arlington Political Buzz Examiner puts it this way:

“According to polling numbers reported in the last few days, the odds of the Democrats retaining a majority in the United States Senate have gone from low to extremely low. Now the issue is not whether they will lose the Senate majority, but just how badly they will lose it. The bottom is falling out from their national Senate effort. I won’t go so far as to make a Dick Morris like predictions and say the Republicans could end up with a 60 seat Senate majority, but if the polling gets much worse for Democrats, the odds of that happening might just get upgraded from impossible to remotely possible.”

He points out that in one key race, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pulled ahead of Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes by 8 points in the latest polls. Even the Democratic National Committee has pulled running any more ads for Grimes and are concentrating their efforts elsewhere. Early on, the Democrats had counted on winning McConnell’s seat, but that seems very unlikely at this time.

Another key race is heating up in New Hampshire. Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) had held a strong double digit lead over Republican Scott Brown, former senator from Massachusetts. That lead has dwindled to a mere three points which is within the margin of error of the two different polls reporting, making the race a virtual dead heat. Brown has been surging in the polls recently and with less than two weeks left, his peaking could be coming at just the right time to win Shaheen’s senate seat away from her.

There are three other Senate races where Democrats are expected to win without a real threat. However, in these three races – Michigan, Illinois and New Jersey, none of the Democratics have poll numbers of 50% or higher, which is the usual bench mark for an easy victory. In at least two of those races, the GOP challengers have pulled within 10 points and their numbers are still climbing. If they could pick up enough of the undecided votes in the next two weeks, they just may pull off huge upsets.

Chambers concludes:

“Those are five seats where Democrats were expect[ed] to coast to easy victory and few would worry about their odds of winning them, that could all be in play in the next week if the polls continue to move toward Republicans. Even without those seats, Republicans are likely to win a 53 senate seat majority. If the Republicans won those five seats, they would be at 58 seats in the Senate next year. Given the rumors of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Maine Senator Angus King joining the Republican caucus, those two would give the GOP at 60 seat Senate majority in that scenario.”

“Is the notion of Republicans having 60 seats in the senate all that far-fetched at this point? Stay tuned, because it won’t take much more movement in the polls before this becomes taken more seriously as a possibility.”

Needless to say, the next two weeks are going to be very interesting as the direction and fate of our nation rests on what happens.