LOS ANGELES, October 13, 2014 — With less than one month to go until the 2014 elections, the battle for control of the United States Senate is prepared to get white hot. President Obama is deeply unpopular in many states where senate seats are up for grabs. He insisted that while he was not on the ballot, his policies of the past six years would be. This decision to nationalize the elections had Republican strategists giddy. Democrats want the election to be about what Republicans would do if elected. Republicans understand that the election is about what Democrats already did.
Democrats currently control 55 seats, with two of them belonging to independents who caucus with Democrats. Republicans have 45 seats, and need six seats to wrest the gavel from Majority Leader Harry Reid. While Reid is not on the ballot, races around the country are expected to prominently mention his stewardship.
Covering every single senate race is too cumbersome, especially since many of the seats are safe. Democrat Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi faced brutal primaries that nearly took them down. However, they are both expected to coast in their respective general elections. Other senators are so well-respected and well-funded that their reelections are mere formalities.
The following incumbents will be reelected, most of them comfortably.
MONEY IN THE BANK—INCUMBENT REPUBLICANS
MISSISSIPPI —Thad Cochran
ALABAMA — Jeff Sessions
IDAHO — Jim Risch
OKLAHOMA — James Inhofe
SOUTH CAROLINA — Tim Scott
WYOMING — Mike Enzi
TENNESSEE – Lamar Alexander
MAINE — Susan Collins
MONEY IN THE BANK—INCUMBENT DEMOCRATS
HAWAII — Brian Schatz
ILLINOIS — Dick Durbin
NEW JERSEY — Cory Booker
DELAWARE — Chris Coons
MASSACHUSETTS — Ed Marcy
RHODE ISLAND — Jack Reed
MONEY IN THE BANK—OPEN SEATS—REPUBLICANS
OKLAHOMA and NEBRASKA are seats where current Republican Senators are retiring. Republicans are expected to easily retain these seats.
REPUBLICANS ON DEFENSE
The Democrats really only have three opportunities for a pickup, and at this point it looks like they will pick up none of them.
KENTUCKY — Incumbent Mitch McConnell has been attacked from the right and the left. He survived a tough primary and was expected to face a serious challenge from Alison Grimes. Grimes has self-destructed. Her own aides have admitted on videotape that she is only pretending to support the coal industry to get elected. She refused to say whether she voted for President Obama in 2012 despite campaigning for him. She insists that she is a Clinton Democrat, and her Clintonian refusal to answer questions honestly will be her undoing. McConnell is a wily campaigner. He will survive.
GEORGIA — This open seat to replace Republican Saxby Chambliss could have been ripe for a pickup. Republicans had a brutal primary, but David Perdue is a mainstream Republican the party is comfortable with. Democrat Michelle Nunn had a clear field and a respected father, Sam Nunn. Yet Michelle Nunn accidentally leaked a memo detailing her own flaws. Perdue will win.
KANSAS — Incumbent Pat Roberts survived a brutal primary and was in deep trouble for being seen as out of touch. His opponent is an Independent pretending he is not really a Democrat despite having run as a Democrat. The entire GOP cavalry arrived with money and heavy hitters, and Roberts has rebounded. In a Republican year, this will be enough to save Roberts.
With Republicans expected to retain all of their seats, Democrats are expected to see several on their side go down in flames.
SOUTH DAKOTA — Republican Governor Mike Rounds is expected to win by a landslide. The Democrats are hoping that former Republican Senator Larry Pressler, now running as an independent, will play the spoiler role. Pressler will take votes from Democrats as well, and his support will collapse as the election gets closer. Most people lose their nerve to vote third party and waste their vote. Rounds will romp.
MONTANA — Steve Daines will win easily. His first Democrat opponent quit the race when he was caught plagiarizing his papers at a military college. His replacement is a radical feminist sacrificial lamb more suited for New York or California.
WEST VIRGINIA — Representative Shelly Moore Capito was the exact candidate the GOP wanted. In Republican West Virginia, she will coast.
Democrats have conceded the above three races, although they are bluffing their way into pretending South Dakota is competitive. The other two open seats held by Democrats actually are competitive.
IOWA — Republican Joni Ernst became a rock star in the primary when she ran her campaign commercial about being a hog farmer who knew how to make pigs squeal. Democrat Bruce Braley came across as a pompous MSNBC host when he sneered at Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley for being a farmer and not a lawyer. In Iowa, they like farmers better than lawyers. Ernst has momentum and very loyal volunteers. She will pull out a win.
MICHIGAN — This may be the race neither side deserves to win. Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land have both run uninspiring campaigns. Michigan did give the GOP big wins in 2010, but it still has a strong union presence. Barring a major GOP wave, Peters should stumble across the finish line and save this seat for the Democrats.
DEMOCRATS ON DEFENSE
ARKANSAS — Democrat Mark Pryor is a likable guy with a respected father. Obama is an albatross around his neck. President Bill Clinton has campaigned for him, but Clinton’s personal rock star status has not produce any coattails in a very long time. Republicans nominated a very impressive candidate in Tom Cotton. Cotton is focused and disciplined. Obama, particularly Obamacare, will drag Pryor down, with Cotton picking up the seat.
LOUISIANA —Democrat Mary Landrieu keeps winning elections by the skin of her teeth. The top Republican challenger is Representative Bill Cassidy, a mainstream candidate. Louisiana has a jungle primary, where the top two candidates move on to a runoff in December unless one candidate gets over 50% in November. A runoff is expected. Other Republican candidates will rally around Cassidy in the runoff, which will be enough to finally oust Landreiu. The Keystone Pipeline will be a major Republican issue in this oil-rich state.
ALASKA — Democrat Mark Begich is yet another affable guy with a revered father. Republicans nominated a solid candidate in Dan Sullivan. A Republican year in a Republican state should be enough to take down Begich.
NORTH CAROLINA —Democrat Kay Hagan has Democrats chirping about her four-point lead in the polls, 44 to 40%, over Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis. This is misleading. Hagan supporters have vowed to spend over 100 million dollars to save her, but she still is nowhere near 50%. As the race winds down and Tillis supporters pour in their money and ground volunteers, Hagan’s support for Obamacare will doom her. Hagan will go down.
COLORADO — Democrat Mark Udall was supposed to be safe as can be. Obama is not a liability in Colorado. In this state, the albatross around the necks of Democrats is deeply unpopular Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper allowed former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cajole him into pushing gun control. Gun owners have already ousted two Democrat antigun state senators, and they will not stop until every anti-gun Democrat is punished. Republican Representative Cory Gardner is a well-polished and pro-Second Amendment, and should ride that issue to an upset win.
OREGON — Democrat Jeff Merkley could lose if a Republican national tidal wave forms, but Republican Dr. Monica Wehby lost ground after starting out strong. Her personal life contains an accusation of stalking. Oregon is a liberal state, which gives Merkley the edge.
MINNESOTA — Democrat Al Franken won by 200 votes in 2008 in a schizophrenic states that elects candidates all across the map. Franken has been in hiding, but Republican Mike McFadden is simply too polite to take down Franken. McFadden is a good, solid, decent midwesterner up against a cutthroat elitist leftist. Just as Obama defeated Mitt Romney, Franken will win handily unless McFadden takes the gloves off. Franken should survive.
VIRGINIA — Democrat Mark Warner was supposed to be totally safe. Then Republicans nominated a top tier candidate in former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie. Warner just recently saw himself tainted by a corruption scandal, but so far he has not been indicted for anything. Warner has crafted an image of himself as a moderate. Unlike other states, Obama is not despised in Virginia because he has lavished the state with federal dollars. Gillespie is tough, but Warner should be able to hang on barring a total national Democrat collapse.
NEW HAMPSHIRE — Former Democrat Governor Jean Shaheen is liked and respected. She was expected to coast until Republicans found the only candidate who could win, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. New Hampshire is not as liberal as Massachusetts, but Shaheen should survive since Obama is less of a liability in the Northeast.
NEW MEXICO — Democrat Tom Udall is in a state that Democrats do well in. Republican Allen Weh will need a big national GOP wave because the anger at Udall is just not there. Udall is not seriously threatened.
CONCLUSION: Republicans will hold all of their own seats. Republicans will pick up open Democrat seats in South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia and Iowa, the first three with ease. Republicans will knock off Democrat incumbents in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Colorado. The net gain of nine seats will create a new United States Senate of 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats including their two independents. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid will switch places.