Having considered the prospects of Republicans’ winning the majority of House seats, I noticed that there is some discussion of whether the GOP can win a Senate majority. Marc Ambinder writes:
Democrats might lose the seats formerly occupied by Biden (DE), Obama (IL), Reid (NV), and they’ve lost the Kennedy seat. Beyond these nifty talking points, though, there’s not much of a case to me made just yet that Republicans can win eight seats.
This sounds about right, though I think this gives Mark Kirk more of a chance in Illinois than he actually has. Giannoulias will probably win the Democratic nomination, and he stands a very good chance of holding that seat for the Democrats. For the GOP to win an outright majority, they need nine more seats and Lieberman or ten more seats. Ambinder is right that an eight-seat pick-up is implausible, and anything more than that is simply fantasy. To add nine, that would require not only picking up North Dakota, Delaware, Nevada, Illinois, Colorado, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, which is at least conceivable, but also picking up Connecticut and Indiana (or California). Barring some unforeseen catastrophe for which the administration is responsible, it is no great risk to say that this is never going to happen.
There are three midterm elections in the last sixty years in which the party not in control of the White House picked up 8+ Senate seats: 1958 (16), 1986 (8) and 1994 (8). Two of these are sixth-year midterm results, and so are not necessarily comparable to the middle of Obama’s first term. I have covered why this year is not like 1994 for the House, but even if the Senate elections somehow produced the same result as in ’94 the GOP could not regain control of the Senate. To argue that the GOP can win a Senate majority, one would have to argue that the ’10 midterms are going to be even worse for the presidential party than 1994 was.