This should be the Republicans’ year.
Democrats need to defend 20 U.S. Senate seats, seven of which are in states Mitt Romney won, even as he lost to President Obama by nearly 5 million votes. The GOP only needs to win six of those seats to take control of the upper house of Congress.
In 2012, the party of Romney underperformed its presidential nominee by more than 6 million. Republican House candidates took in 1.4 million fewer votes than Democrats. But thanks to redistricting and the way Americans tend to gerrymander themselves, the GOP kept a large majority in the House.
For a while last year, it seemed possible that the “Suicide Caucus” in the House could lead Republicans down such a far-right path that they could threaten their majority. After a 16-day government shutdown that sent the party’s disapproval ratings to all-time highs, Democratic groups were releasing polls showing that a House takeover was possible. However, as the problems with HealthCare.gov rolled into the second month and the gap in the news left by the government reopening was filled with cancelation stories — that often turned out to be badly reported or bogus — that storyline quickly withered.
Since November, the story has been that Democrats would need a miracle to keep the Senate. Yet recently polls have shown again and again that the Senate is a pure toss-up. Republicans trail slightly in the generic ballot polls and President Obama’s approval rating has been edging back toward 50 percent. And in states where Republicans thought they would have easy Senate pickups — like Arkansas, Alaska and North Carolina — the Democratic incumbents are still leading in the polls.
Democrats — with the right breaks and get-out-the-vote efforts — could easily keep the Senate.
But for the sake of argument, let’s indulge in a little speculation — some might call it “fan fiction.” Here are five things that could magically align to radically transform the political landscape and give President Obama a friendly House for his last two years as president.
Screenshot via Senator Ted Cruz YouTube channel