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Home/Daniel Larison/Cook: 2014 Is “Do-or-Die” Year for GOP Senate Hopes

Cook: 2014 Is “Do-or-Die” Year for GOP Senate Hopes

Charlie Cook explains why 2014 is especially important for Republicans if they hope to take control of the Senate:

The reason next year is so make-or-break for Senate Republicans is because in 2016, when all of the seats they won in 2010 come up—they netted a six-seat net gain that year—there will be 24 GOP seats up, compared with only 10 for Democrats, leading to some serious Republican overexposure. Seven of the 24 GOP senators up are hailing from states that Obama carried in 2012. After having had plentiful Democratic targets in 2012 and 2014, it will be Republicans in 2016 who will have the most incumbents in the crosshairs.

Republicans faced a similar problem in Senate elections in 2000. Six years after the ’94 wave that gave Republicans control of the chamber, they lost four seats in the same year that their presidential candidate lost the popular vote, which set up the 50-50 split that turned into a Democratic majority with Jeffords’ party switch. It will be challenging for the GOP to win enough Senate seats in next year’s election to take the majority, but as Cook says they will facing an even steeper hill to climb in the election after that. If Republicans do gain control of the Senate after the midterms, it’s also quite possible that their majority will be so small that it could quickly be wiped out when the class of 2010 has to run during a presidential election year. Republicans are running into a recurring problem where they have to run up huge wins in the midterms just to be able to absorb their failures in the presidential years, so that even an average midterm performance becomes inadequate.

The difficulties for the GOP in taking and holding the Senate should be a reminder of how deep the Bush-era hole was that the GOP has been trying to escape. The public not only repudiated the party in consecutive elections in 2006 and 2008 for its failures in office. They did so in such a way that the party is still recovering from the magnitude of those defeats.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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