Before you read this diary, perhaps you should check out Part I of the 2012 races which you can access here. This 2014 diary, much like the last one, will attempt to break-down some of the major races and provide a summary of the chances of picking up the seat. This is important in not just stopping a possible Obama agenda if he's re-elected, but also in submitting a budget, as required by law, for the first time in three years, beyond the judicial appointments and nominations everyone first considers with this chamber.
I believe very strongly that we as a party will pick up the Senate, no matter how much the left-wing media likes to claim that New Yorkified former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey has a chance in Nebraska to replace retiring disgraced Senator Ben Nelson or the retirement of former Maine RINO Olympia Snowe. I think they are being far too confident on some of these races like Nebraska, when they really won't be in play.
I also believe that if for some reason, we do not pick up the Senate in 2012, we will assuredly finish the job in 2014 and all one has to do is look at the states involved combined with the vunerable Democratic seats as the perfect storm.
Just like this year, there will be 33 seats up for grabs. Republicans only have to defend 13 to the Democrats 20.
These seats the Republicans have to defend are either in the South, or heavily conservative states. They are the following:
Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.
Only Maine with RINO Susan Collins and Kentucky with passive and disappointing Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn't shock me if those seats flipped to the Democrats, the rest should be absolutely safe which will allow the RNC, Tea Party, and other conservative groups to focus their money and attention on picking up more states to hopefully add to their Senate Majority that came this year.
I could see Saxby Chambliss getting Tea Party challeged in Georgia due to his compromising on raising taxes and other non conservative-like action he's shown to align with Democrats in the past. Also, it really would be nice if someone would challenge RINO Lindsay Graham in South Carolina whose really only conservative on issues of Life and the Military. When it comes to immigration, he's John McCain II as an amnesty-advocate.
With that said, all the other seats are safe. The Democratic party is basically useless in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Idaho, and Tennessee.
Seats Democrats control but Republicans should be able to pick up (no particular order)
Alaska: Mark Begich barely won election in the Democratic 2008 tital wave and embattled Republican Ted Stevens, the only Senator that seat had ever known almost won despite the fact he was a known corrupt politician. That is how much Alaskans loved him and the GOP. With Obama not on the ticket in 2014 and a Republican Governor and House member, this seat should flip fairly easily.
Louisiana: Mary Landrieu is a good as gone as soon as Republicas get a chance to kick her out over the "Louisiana Purchase" healthcare closed-door deal and the fact the Democrats have been hurting the region with the BP oil spill cleanup and their blocking of domestic drilling in general. Democrats are basically extinct in the Bayou and soon Landrieu will join them in the unemployment line. She barely won re-election in 2008 and lost much of her base post-Katrina with displacement of residents to other states. I expect her to pull a "Byron Dorgan" sometime early next year, if not late this year and announce her retirement. Here is a good piece on who may take her place and why.
North Carolina: Kay Hagan is up for re-election and like Begich, won't have Obama's coat tails to ride in on like 2008. Democratic Governor Beverely Perdue already announced she won't run for re-election this year and Republicans are expected to pick up four more House seats which began with a purging of Democrats in 2010 in the Tar Heel State. Both state legislative chambers are Republican for the first time since 1800 suggesting North Carolinians learned from their 2008 election mistakes much like Virginia.
South Dakota: Forget the fact that Senator Tim Johnson had past health scares. If former popular Governor Mike Rounds gets in this race, as could be the case, this could be all she wrote. Remember, the Dakotas are trending red at the Federal level finally, after so many solid years as the state level. Their At-Large House member Kristi Noem is a Republican. Finally, Johnson's races usually are close.
Virginia: Republicans have got to be licking their chops that this seat. Re-read the GOP trends in the Commonweath which began in 2009 with Governor Bob McDonnell's election with that followed with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who may be running for this seat. As an ardant opponent of the Healthcare bill mandate and forced law overall, his popularity is only sure to increase in a state trending redder going back to its roots. No state has more buyer's remorse than Virginia who continued their GOP move in the 2010 off-year elections sending 3 more House members to D.C. and increasing their state assemby majorities.
Warner may have been popular but that was then and this is now. If George Allen defeats former Governor Tim Kaine for the other Senate seat this year, that will only continue to prove how far right Virginia has moved despite polls that suggest Obama actually leads this state, to which I have my doubts. We need to encourage Cuccinelli to run. He's not just against the Healthcare effort, but he was one of the first pioneers as a solid but also effective leader and conservative.
These 5 seats, added to the 49-51 Republicans should have come January 2013 would tip the scales to 54-56 overall depending on how things go this November. I think its a greater chance that these particular seats flip than if they don't. That's how confident I am.
However, this does not mean there are many more seats that could be very much in play:
Montana: Crusty old Democrat Max Baucus will be tough to beat but Montana hopefully won't have Democrat Jon Tester after 2012 and the Governorship is expected to flip to the Republicans. He's so engrained in Montana politics, a pickup isn't likely, but at 72 by 2014, a retirement could be and much like Nelson in Nebraska, at that point, Democrats would have to realize they'd likely be ceding this seat to the Republicans. If 2014 is a wave year, who knows? He may just bow out rather than be humiliated and he's not without scandal.
Iowa: Obviously, the 72 year old veteran Iowa Senator Tom Harkin would retire over getting defeated but what if former (and current) Governor Terry Branstad were to challange him, or popular Representaive Steve King, especially if he loses his House seat to Christine Vilsack, the wife of former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack, which is entirely possible in crazy, unpredictable Iowa with a recent progressive streak having launched and supported the Obama campaign in 2008. Put this seat as non-starter unless Harkin retires, then, all bets are off in a seat and state that really should be red when you think about it.
Colorado: The Udall cousins, Mark (Colorado) and Tom, New Mexico, are both up in 2014. Natives of Tucson, Arizona, both will be tough to beat but Colorado has a history of splitting their Senate seats between each party giving me hope. This seat is the one that has historically been the Republican one. The chances of this aren't likely but Mark only won his seat by 10 points (53-43) in 2008 so we'll see. I truly believe the entire 2012 Presidential election may hinge electorally on Colorado, which I will write about in a future diary soon.
New Mexico: Susanna Martinez is a very popular Governor so who knows what kind of pull she may have in two years as a Queen Maker? This is the seat that was once held by popular Republican Pete Domenici who retired. The chances of picking up this seat are slim, but like Colorado, they tend to split their seats between party. The state is trending bluer however in recent years, but the right candidate may a chance. If you are counting on this seat to flip, don't, which is why its in the second tier of possibilities, however small they may be.
Minnesota: Republicans always think, incorrectly, that Minnesota is "in play" or is a "purple state" when in fact, that couldn't be further from the truth. While he's not the most politically orthodox, Franken has shown to be a surprisingly capable and popular politican in left-leaning Minnesota. This is precisely why he rubs Republicans the wrong way. They can't figure him out, nor how he's possibly polling as well as he is when they see this as a "easy" seat to pick up. I firmly believe at worst, he'd slip by, in a race many people still believe was stolen in 2008 from former incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and the Republicans. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty loses a hypothetical to him, and I'm telling you, Republicans would be better focusing their time and effort on more winnable, truly swing states.
Feel free to take a look at the remaining races, linked above, but I see no other seats that could be in play, at least not now. The fact remains Republicans are in much better shape to pick up the Senate come 2014 if they don't finish the job this year, simply by the numbers of not just more Democratic seats in play, but specifically where those seats are located and the fact Republican seats are in much, much safer states.