So we lost the Senate. Yea, it hurts. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. And get ready for the storm – the real storm — coming in two years. You know, the political storm where Democrats take back the Senate and retain the White House. No, I’m not being overly optimistic. No, I am not riding on dancing unicorns jumping through candy-covered rainbows. I am saddled on a brute horse charging through the political lines of defeat. The Electoral College is on our side. The popular vote is on our side. The Senatorial election map is on our side. 2014 will be a contest quickly forgotten and 2016 will be our triumphant return to Rome.
In 2016 the White House is the Democrat’s to lose. Step back from all political bias and disenchanting talking points and you will find an Electoral Map that favors the left. In order to win back the White House, Republicans need to pitch the equivalent of a perfect game. They must secure every major swing state with near impossible success; dropping even one contest will prove to be an insurmountable obstacle. They must win Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida to even compete in 2016 – a tall order seeing all were painted blue in 2012 and demographic trends favor the left. Even with the Republican’s current influx of dark campaign money, resources will be scarce to adequately defend all battleground territories. Democrats, on the other hand, can lose a handful of swing states and still unload their United Van Lines moving truck at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In 2016 the Senate will return to Democrat control. The Senatorial map is stacked left with Republicans defending 24 seats in 34 contests. Many Republican incumbents are defending seats in blue states including contest in Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. This landscape is the polar opposite of the 2014 elections where Democrats had to defend 21 seats, many in red states which trended blue behind the 2008 Presidential Election. Although the Senate is changing hands, Harry Reid’s “Majority Leader” desk plaque should not leave Capitol Hill.
— MATTY ICE (@MattyIceAZ) November 3, 2014
In 2016 voter turnout will favor Democrats. Republicans are currently passing aggressive voter suppression laws, not to impact 2014, but in preparation for 2016. In the last two presidential elections several states were decided by razor-thin margins. Republicans do not have votes to lose in 2016 given their aging demographic and shrinking party diversity forcing them to pick off minority and young voters. Remember, 48% of Americans currently lean Democrat when polled (vs. 43% for Republicans) and this number continues to grow with the emerging Hispanic population. In fact, an argument could be made that the Republican’s dismissal of the bi-partisan 2013 Senate immigration bill will cost them the White House in 2016.
Voter turnout also impacts gubernatorial and House elections. 2016 will see competitive state elections for North Carolina, Missouri, and West Virginia — all with potential Democrat victories. The Gerrymandered House will see minimal changes until 2022 when boundaries can be redrawn to represent population as the US Constitution directs. In fact, Republican manipulation of district boundaries allowed the party to maintain a 33 seat majority in 2012 even though they lost the popular vote. With all House seats up for election in 2016, the sheer numbers of voters will positively swing several dozen seats back to blue cutting into the Republicans grip on the lower chamber.
Losing the Senate is painful, but second guessing party choices and election strategy is unproductive. Remember, the loss is not a necessarily a referendum on Democratic policies or President Obama, but the result of our political system. Incumbent presidents always lose seats in mid-term elections. Even Ronald Reagan, after miraculously winning 49 states in 1984, saw his Senate flip control by losing eight Republican seats in the 1986 mid-term election. Democrats need to be stalwart with data and ignore the sensational media more interested in securing viewers than fact-based reporting. When history peals back the orange, the seeds of President Obama’s work will be fully intact and the distracting scandal-rumor-mill will turn toward the newly-occupied Oval Office chair. Given historical trends, Obama could again experience rock-star status by 2018 as his legacy will be defined by several strong economic indicators, a drop in uninsured and unemployed, and the reduction of the national deficit.
Republicans can bask in their 2014 victory and use the election to justify their undefined political agenda. I fully expect attempts to repeal parts of Obamacare, pass suffocating energy laws (Republicans owe their first-born children to the Koch donors), and block every Obama judicial nominee or appointment. Republicans campaign on the belief that government is the problem so trying to fix any perceived obstacle or inefficiency will be against their best interest. The good news is President Obama still controls the White House so the collateral damage in the interim will be minimal. Once Democrats regain control in 2016, the bitter loss should be enough to jolt Republicans away from their obstructionist ways. Such a defeat would also force the GOP to come to the center, enabling responsible governance.
OK, so maybe that last line was me riding dancing unicorns and jumping through candy-covered rainbows.