The Senate Map Turns Redder

Senate Map

That latest from Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

Our present ratings leave Republicans with 49 seats and Democrats with 47 seats, with four Toss-ups: Georgia and Louisiana, which both might be heading to overtime, and Colorado and Kansas, where incumbents Udall and Roberts are in deep trouble — especially Udall — but retain a path to victory. To claim a majority, Republicans need to win half of the Toss-up states. Democrats need to win three of them to achieve a Biden Majority (a 50-50 draw with Vice President Joe Biden’s tie-breaking vote giving Democrats the edge). Given the playing field, this arithmetic certainly advantages the GOP, but there is at least some chance that Democrats might pull off the unexpected.

So the Senate remains too close to call, but it’s clear that Republicans are well positioned to win a majority and that Democrats’ backs are up against the wall as Election Day approaches

Nate Cohn determines that, more or less, “Democratic chances depend on winning Kansas or Georgia, or another red state, South Dakota, which was largely taken for granted over the summer but where a Democratic and an independent candidate have a shot at an upset”:

Winning a red state will be a big challenge for Democrats. Michelle Nunn of Georgia is faring well in the polls, but she needs 50 percent of the vote to avoid a January runoff, when turnout and her prospects would be more uncertain. The independent candidate in Kansas, Greg Orman, has seen his lead dwindle in recent weeks.

The problem for Democrats is that, barring other upsets, winning one red state — Kansas, Georgia or South Dakota — won’t be enough. If the Democrats win just one of these states, the G.O.P.’s odds of retaking the Senate remain at 70 percent.

Should the Democrats exceed expectations, Chait will credit the “backlash against Republican governors, many of whom enacted policy agendas reflecting the national-level Republican vision and find themselves in danger of losing reelection”:

[T]he general pro-Republican thrust of the election is running up against a localized backlash against Republican policies. If Obama were the only incumbent, Republicans would have locked up the Senate majority by now and might be poised to enjoy a genuine wave. Unfortunately for them, they have had the chance to govern.

Whatever happens, Kilgore expects little to change in DC:

Yes, if Democrats hang onto the Senate, they (and the president) can argue a sort of implicit permission to keep on keeping on with an agenda on which they cannot act legislatively, but they are more likely to treat it as a negative repudiation of Republican obstruction and extremism. If Republicans win the Senate and make significant House gains, they will almost certainly claim voters want them to “restrain” the president, particularly in terms of dramatic executive action on immigration, the environment (EPA rules) and energy (the Keystone XL pipeline, which for all we know Obama may have already decided to approve). But abject surrender may be the only alternative to executive action, and it’s unlikely Obama will decide to spend the last two years of his presidency like he spent a big part of his first four: begging Republicans for cooperation they’ve already decided not to provide.

Along the same lines, Annie Lowrey asks, “What could Republicans and Democrats come together on?”

There is a short list. Trade promotion authority — easing the way for the White House to pass two gigantic new pacts under negotiation — seems like a strong possibility, as does the passage of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Corporate tax reform is less likely, but potentially doable. Republicans also might pass a pared-down version of immigration reform, expanding visas for skilled immigrants and beefing up border security without touching the thorny question of what to do with the 12 million undocumented individuals already here. Democrats might not like it, but they might find such legislation hard to filibuster or to veto.

Many other Republican priorities Democrats seem set on blocking: a 20-week abortion ban, dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, repealing the Affordable Care Act, block-granting Medicaid, slashing food stamps, trimming Pell Grants, and on and on. Were the Senate to try to pass stand-alone bills to accomplish any of those priorities, Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats would simply filibuster.