A Republican Senate In 2013?

The GOP is becoming more confident of their ability to attain a Senate majority in the 2012 elections:

WASHINGTON — Just two years after watching Democrats claim a 60th seat in the Senate, Republicans are heading into the 2012 election season well positioned to challenge them for control of the chamber, giving the party reason for optimism even as it worries about the strength of its presidential field.

With Democrats defending 23 seats to their 10, top Republicans believe they have a built-in advantage in their drive to pick up at least the four seats that would vault them into the majority even if President Obama wins a second term and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. remains able to break Senate ties. And they calculate that their chances are enhanced because important races will be in relatively conservative states like Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.

“With our encouragement, I do think people are focusing on the Senate and how that can be the place where we can pick up the most yardage in 2012,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democrats are hardly conceding the Senate, and even though the election is 18 months off, campaigns are quickly moving into high gear and contenders are scurrying to raise the millions of dollars they will need.

In Montana, Senator Jon Tester, the Democratic incumbent, is already engaged in a full-blown fight with his Republican opponent, Representative Denny Rehberg. An advocacy group is advertising in Massachusetts against Senator Scott P. Brown, a Republican and a top target of Democrats. Potentially vulnerable incumbents are busily crisscrossing their states.

“I am going like there is no tomorrow,” said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, who faces a tough race in a major battleground state.

The announcement Friday by Senator Herb Kohl, the four-term Wisconsin Democrat, that he would not seek re-election only added to the difficulties facing Democrats, depriving them of a relatively popular incumbent who could have financed his own campaign. Mr. Kohl’s exit instead left Democrats with another open seat to protect — their sixth — and added Wisconsin to the list of more than a dozen high-wattage races that will decide control of the Senate, which is now split 53 to 47.

Republicans are even trying to turn concerns about their uncertain prospects in the presidential race into an opportunity in the battle for Senate supremacy, arguing that a Senate takeover could fundamentally alter the balance of power in Washington even if Mr. Obama won a second term. They are making the case to donors and voters that winning a Senate majority would give the party control of Congress and a united front against the president from Capitol Hill if Republicans hold the House.

It is not lost on Republicans that the last time a Democratic president won a second term, when Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996, Senate Republicans still expanded their numbers.

“I am hoping he is not re-elected,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Senate Republican, said about Mr. Obama. “But it is notable to look back at 1996, when we gained two seats even when we did not succeed. We are focused like a laser on trying to get over the top in the Senate, and we have a reasonable shot.”

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said that the fight for control of the Senate was among the highest priorities for the party, and that while activists were eager to reclaim the White House, the Senate provided an easier path to changing the direction of Washington.

“The fact that Democrats are running for the hills is making it easier for us to win back the Senate and take full control of the legislative agenda,” Mr. Priebus said in an interview.

Given the propensity that American voters have shown for divided government, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they re-elected Barack Obama while at the same time giving the GOP control of both Houses of Congress. Can you say gridlock?

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. DystopiaResident says:

    Maybe if you live in a Republican bubble.

  2. Beth says:

    I have more confidence in our taking the Senate back than booting Obama out. I’ve decided that since we’re probably going to lose to Obama, we should focus heavily on getting an Obama-proof Senate.

  3. Babyboomer1960 says:

    If the prospect of gaining control of the Senate in 2012 is increasingly becoming more probable as you suggest, then the effort on everyone in the Republican party except the RSCC should put forward a full court press to put up a strong candidate against the Resident-in-Chief to ensure his ouster from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I, for one, would vote for a table leg, were it the only candidate running against Obama.

    Your premise that Americans have a propensity for divided government is debatable, depending upon which slice of history is under discussion. It’s true, for example, that Americans have seen the worst of both worlds from 2000 through 2010 in that from 2001 through 2008, we saw the Rs spending like drunken sailors and in control of all houses. Then when the Houses swung to the Ds, we saw really drunken sailor spending, but with George W. Bush ready to sign on to anything that was offered. Hardly gridlock, I’d say. But for the last two years, we’ve witnessed a quantum leap in out of growth deficit spending with the Ds having relinquished the House, but clinging to the Senate, where they are playing the role of the agent of gridlock.

    But the traditional view of the American electorate is increasingly being up-ended, as witnessed by the growth of the TEA Party, and Conservatism sweeping not only the House, but dozens of individual state legislatures and governorships as well. Americans recognize that we live in “unprecedented” times, to borrow the hackneyed mantra of the “Mainstream Media,” and the stakes for our Republic’s survival are too high to allow for gridlock. I pray that your scenario does not come true.

    Among the many lies peddled to the American electorate by Barak Hussein Obama, the one thing that he followed through on, despite the best of his efforts, is to be known as a Uniter, as one who could bring vastly different parts of American society together. Though he aggressively pursues the rhetoric of racial, economic, and cultural division, more and more Americans are coming together in their recognition of what his policies are doing to the country, and they are uniting as one to oppose him, his agenda, the political party, people and apparatus that put him into the Presidency.

    If we can survive the “in the beltway” political insiders forcing a RINO or “reach across the aisle” candidate down our throats, then America stands a good chance to get a White House and Congress that doesn’t include many Democrats. After what both parties have done to this country, it’s hardly like I’m rooting for any more Republicans, either. If enough true TEA Party, Conservative or 3rd Party Candidates were elected into the House or Senate, we’d stand a better chance for a system that might actually work better than the current “only game in town” mentality of the Democrats and Republicans.

  4. Tano says:

    I’ve decided that since we’re probably going to lose to Obama, we should focus heavily on getting an Obama-proof Senate.

    Who is this “we”, lady?

  5. Tano says:

    , more and more Americans are coming together in their recognition of what his policies are doing to the country, and they are uniting as one to oppose him,

    Is that why his approval polls average out (according to the GOP site – RealClear Politics) at over 50%? You must be on some kinda drugs Boomboy.

  6. Babyboomer1960 says:

    Is that why his approval polls average out (according to the GOP site – RealClear Politics) at over 50%?

    When you’ve got the overwhelming majority of the State-Run Media in your pocket, including pollsters who oversample your friends, and when you were elected as an “American Idol” President by an electorate screaming for a piece of “Obama stash,” sure – you can maintain poll numbers around 50% on average. When you play divide-and-conquer class warfare in order to spike popularity numbers among this or that constituency, you’re bound to maintain good numbers for a while, depending on how you exploit the population. And as for the snarky comment on my use of pharmaceuticals, all I can say is, “Put Down the HaterAid, Tanos!”

  7. Davebo says:

    When you’ve got the overwhelming majority of the State-Run Media in your pocket

    So Obama’s numbers are high because of the 8 people who watch CSPAN?

    Interesting theory you have there.

  8. reid says:

    It’d be interesting to hear how such a seemingly intelligent person can get so detached from reality. Wow. Surely a constant diet of Fox News and worse.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    What is it with this incessant whining from some conservatives? Even when “their” politicians are in positions of power in Washington, these politicians inevitably disappoint these conservatives because they have to *gasp* compromise to get certain things done or they are in the pockets of special interests. Then out come the “RINO” labels. Here’s a newsflash, you will never, ever get a majority of the Congress or even the president to be as pure as you would like, as not that many true conservatives would ever form a majority of the Congress nor would such a candidate probably ever be elected president as a GOP candidate for the office would always have to moderate certain positions to get elected in the first place. And “State-Run Media”? Really? That’s a sign of something far worse than HaterAid…

  10. Gustopher says:

    And if the Republicans get control of the Senate, they will focus like a laser on jobs abortion.

  11. tom p says:

    When you’ve got the overwhelming majority of the State-Run Media in your pocket,

    God, how delusional can you be? Did you watch the Sunday morning shows today? 8, count them, 8, out of NINE guests on the Sunday morning shows today were REPUBLICAN!!!

    Take your “liberal main stream” media and shove it up your “lame stream media” *ss..

    PS: that was by Steve Benens count. I am unable to verify BECAUSE I AM SMART ENUF to know that the Sunday morning shows ARE A COMPLETE WASTE OF MY TIME.

  12. A voice from another precinct says:

    @babyboomer1960: Personally, I would vote for a table leg before I would vote for a Republican, too. The table leg is probably smarter, has more political acumen, and will listen to wise counsel better than anyone that I see coming up in the GOP.

  13. Tano says:

    When you’ve got the overwhelming majority of the State-Run Media in your pocket,

    Thats it? Thats your only argument? A grand conspiracy?

    including pollsters who oversample your friends,

    Even the pollsters? Were they in the Dems pocket when they showed W with a 90% approval rating? Take yourself a little more seriously, dude.

    and when you were elected…
    When you play …
    , you’re bound to maintain good numbers for a while,

    You are just offering explanations for his popularity here. Do you even remember where you started your rant? You claimed he was massively unpopular – uniting the country against him. I point out his popularity, and you respond by explaining why he is popular???
    You don’t even realize how you admit your own thesis is wrong?

    And as for the snarky comment on my use of pharmaceuticals…

    You shouldn’t complain buddy. I was being generous by attributing your cluelessness to drugs. If it isn’t pharma-based, then what are we to conclude about you?

  14. Kylopod says:

    >Even when “their” politicians are in positions of power in Washington, these politicians inevitably disappoint these conservatives because they have to *gasp* compromise to get certain things done or they are in the pockets of special interests.

    I am not a big fan of equivalence arguments between the two parties, but I have to say that what you just described is something I have seen heavily on the left in the past two years.

  15. Babyboomer1960 says:

    As I recall the topic in this discussion is supposedly focused on the possibility of the GOP gaining the upper hand in the Senate while being denied control of the Administration. Specious comments aside, it appears that there is little or no substantive counterarguments to the points I earlier put forth. Perhaps there was some confusion over terminology. By state-run media, I explicitly reference ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, MSNBC, CNN as well as the other various syndicated “Alphabet Soup Networks,” aka “Mainstream Media.” No – I don’t subsist on a diet of FOX News. I actually get most of my “filtered information” through various internet sources. I attempted, perhaps unsuccessfully, to mention that the GOP isn’t really a great choice for leadership either. That’s where the “table leg” comment came into play. It seemed pretty self-evident to me, but apparently it went over the heads of most, but not all, readers. Was I not clear enough that The Rs offer little for me at this point except being “the other side of the same coin?” As for any conclusions to be drawn about my “cluelessness,” about this, that, or the other thing: feel free to draw your own conclusions. The fact that you don’t agree with any of my observations is beyond my control and doesn’t bother me. In fact, it reinforces and reassures me that there are other citizens in this country who are also analyzing what they see going down around them and forming opinions about motives and consequences. I agree that Sunday morning talk shows (via State-Run aka “Mainstream” Media) are a complete waste of my time. They are heavily scripted in advance, and serve only to reinforce political narratives already put forward earlier in the week. In fact, I rarely watch any of them en toto any more.

    Just as the Obama regime games the polls, the networks – including FOX News – game the ratings games to get the results they want. My comments on “playing the polls game” stand. A smattering of comments attempting to rebut these points leave them largely intact. The “CSPAN” commenter apparently doesn’t understand who I was referencing (although I’m amused to think that someone would imagine that CSPAN is “state-run media,” even though technically, I suppose it is)!

    It’s all good, though! We’ve had a lively discussion here over this topic, and pretty much nobody has gone “over the top” in excoriating anyone, other than a few disgruntled comments that apparently seek to discredit the messenger because they apparently dislike the message, however well intended. That’s what make America great, right? That we can all express ourselves in a civil and intellectually honest manner? I appreciate everyone’s feedback on this discussion and am calling it a night. God Bless you and God Bless America!

  16. sam says:

    “Given the propensity that American voters have shown for divided government, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they re-elected Barack Obama while at the same time giving the GOP control of both Houses of Congress”

    Perhaps, if the coming revulsion of the electorate toward the Tea Party-dominated House Republicans fails to taint the Senate Republicans. Odds, Doug?

  17. anjin-san says:

    Recent congressional polling based on a generic GOP/DEM is not encouraging for Republicans.

  18. Rick DeMent says:

    So what, if they don’t get at least 57 they won’t have a filibuster proof majority.