In an e-mail, Rachel E. notes that everything points to a bad election year for Democrats in the Senate. She asks, “what would be positive signs to look for in the news” about Democratic prospects?
The answer is simple: Republican primary elections. For now, Georgia appears to be the only state where Tea Party voters might sabotage Republican electoral prospects by selecting a candidate who is perceived as far out of the mainstream or one who is inexperienced or incompetent. But late surges are very possible in statewide primary elections. So it’s worth paying attention to what happens in Alaska, North Carolina, and perhaps some other states in which the nominations don’t seem particularly contested right now.
It doesn’t appear that there are any contested Democratic primaries that could affect November results. There’s a fierce battle in Hawaii, but either candidate would be heavily favored.
Beyond that? It certainly might make a difference for Democrats in the many competitive Senate races if the economy improves and President Barack Obama’s recent modest recovery in the polls continues and even accelerates a little.
Remember, the main reason the Democrats are in trouble in the Senate is because of the particular seats that are in play and the overall set of retirements and recruitments -- all of that is already baked in. But the exact yield for Republicans is still uncertain. I still could imagine Republicans winding up anywhere with Senate seats from the mid-40s to the high 50s.
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