The Senate Is In Play

According to Nate Cohn:

The big news—perhaps the biggest Senate news of 2013—is that Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer decided not to run for Montana’s open Senate seat. Many thought Schwietzer would run and win—polls showed him over 50 percent and he has strong approval ratings. Now there’s no obvious candidate for Democrats in Montana, a state that will vote for a populist, western Democrat, but still voted for Romney by 14 points last November.

With the GOP’s odds suddenly looking much better in Big Sky Country, their road to 51 seats in the Senate is looking much clearer. Republicans will need to pick-up six seats to make Mitch McConnell the Senate Majority Leader, as Democrats will hold 55 Senate seats after Cory Booker wins in October and Vice President Biden would cast a tie-breaking vote in a divided chamber. Republicans start with easy pick-up opportunities in South Dakota and West Virginia, two open seats on GOP friendly turf where Republicans have a strong candidates and Democrats do not.

Nate Silver agrees:

Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections. Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.

Kyle Kondik joins the chorus:

Because Democrats will have to lose a net six seats — quite a lot in a single year, though with plenty of precedents — we would tentatively give the Democrats slightly favorable odds of retaining control with a reduced majority. But we’ve passed the point where a GOP Senate majority is purely theoretical, and we are approaching the point where Republican takeover of the Senate is easily imaginable, dependent on just a medium-sized wave in November 2014.