I’m not big on predictions, especially political predictions. But back in July, I did offer up, The Next Three Election Cycles. That was not so much a prediction as it was an explanation of what I thought it would take for the Republican Party to make substantial changes in order to start winning national elections again. The predictions in the article, however, still look pretty good.
I said that the Republicans will likely pick up a few seats in both the House and the Senate. What’s more, I said there was a 50% chance that the Republicans will retake control of the Senate. The reason for this is that 2008 was such a great year for Democrats. They have to protect a large number of seats compared to the Republicans. The fact that the Democrats still have a 50% chance of holding onto the Senate in an off-year election should give you some idea of just how badly the Republican Party is doing.
And it is important for the Democrats to maintain control of the Senate. There are lots of federal executive and judicial nominations that Obama will need to make the last two years of his presidency. So it would be really good if the Senate stays in the hands of the Democratic Party. But it wouldn’t be catastrophic if it didn’t happen. And the reason it wouldn’t be catastrophic is that if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, it will be for two years, and two years only.
This morning, Ed Kilgore helpfully reminds us that the political landscape will be infinitely better for Democratic Senators in 2016. Instead of trying to hold onto the gains they made in 2008, it will be the Republicans who are trying to hang on to the enormous gains they made in 2010—you remember: Obama’s “shellacking.” Kilgore provides the numbers:
Remember, if the Republicans take control of the Senate after next year’s elections, they will only take control by the smallest of margins. In fact, people are talking about there being a 50-50 split in the Senate, requiring Joe Biden to spend most of his last two years as vice-president hanging out at the Senate. So just with those numbers, the Senate will go back to the Democrats in 2016. (I predicted this as well in my article.)
But it is even worse for the Republicans. The 2016 election will be “on year”: a presidential election. So the entire electorate will be more liberal. So there will be a Democratic Senate after the 2016 election. That isn’t a debatable point. What’s more interesting at that point is what will happen to the House. Every day that goes by, the great Republican gerrymandering coup of 2010 gets less powerful. So by 2016, the Democrats could take back the House. And that has to cause thoughtful Republicans a great deal of worry. After all, they will be but four years away from another gerrymandering opportunity, but this time it will be during a presidential election. The Democrats might gerrymander the Republicans right out of existence.
Regardless of all the predictions you are going to hear over the next couple of days, remember this: the 2014 elections are not going to be a big deal for either party. About the only good news that the Republicans might get is that they control the Senate. And that will last exactly two years. The Republicans are a dying party. And having a slim majority in the Senate may be the last thing they have to celebrate for a very long time.