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Senate control looks like a tossup

Still unclear who will gain or lose senate control

How likely is it that the Democrats will no longer have senate control? Sean Trende, writing for Real Clear Politics, uses a model that tracks losses with the president’s approval rating and finds that it is very likely.

Trende’s analysis suggests that if the President were to have the average approval rating he has now, 44 percent, on election day 2014 his party will lose between nine and 13 senate seats, more than enough for the Republicans to gain senate control. Indeed, if he has an approval rating of as low as 40 percent, which some recent polls have given him, the Democrats stand to lose between 12 and 14 seats, a historical debacle. The president has to poll above 50 percent approval, an unlikely occurrence, before the Democrats can even hope to retain senate control.

To be sure, the model, which has worked in the two previous elections, may not hold this time. The qualities of individual candidates can count for something. However, it looks like the last two years of the Obama administration will see the president face losing control of the senate, as well as losing the ability of Harry Reid to run interference.

This means that the twilight years of the Obama administration will feature gridlock, more investigations, this time including those from the Senate, and an even more toxic political environment. Obama will increasingly attempt to rule by executive decree while Congress will seek to stop him, probably by using the power of the purse.

The 2016 presidential elections will run partly on a theme of who will be best able to restore the spirit of bi-partisan cooperation in the federal government. That will be, at least, the rationale for some of the more centrist candidates on the Republican side. Tea party candidates like Ted Cruz, on the other hand, will run on the theme of completing a conservative restoration and rolling back the various debacles of the Obama administration.

Which approach will be more successful remains to be seen.

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