Will Christmas Come Early for Republicans?
1:29 PM, Apr 30, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
To avoid having to directly quote the great Winston Wolf, let's begin with a gentle reminder that the midterm elections are still 6 months away and that a lot can happen in 25 weeks. The economy could take off. Unemployment could plummet. People could decide that they're thrilled with Obamacare. The dead could rise from their graves and inaugurate the long-awaited zombie apocalypse.
Actually, it's this last one that I'd worry about most, from a political perspective. Not an actual zombie apocalypse, of course. But more like some large-scale, unforeseen event that reshuffles the electoral deck. For instance, another Russian adventure. Or a sudden immigration deal in Congress. These things happen, with unpredictable consequences.
But with that caveat out of the way, Christmas certainly could come early this year. So why not put together a wish list: What are the outcomes that we would most like to see under the tree on the morning of November 5?
(1) A Hulk-SMASH! Senate: Conventional wisdom now suggests that Republicans are likely to take the Senate. The question is, how many seats? If I were a bookmaker setting the line in Vegas, I'd probably put the over-under at 52.
And if I were a betting man looking for action, I would pound that over.
Of the seven toss-up races right now, the smart money has to like at least six of the Republicans. (Nate Silver, for instance, puts the Democrats' great hope of unseating Mitch McConnell at just 25 percent.) And two seats that are assumed to be safe for Dems—in Virginia and New Hampshire—now have quality Republicans running. They may not be so safe.
If this becomes a wave election, they become close-run contests and even a presumed firewall, like New Jersey, could come into play because another smart Republican (Jeff Bell) is running there against a freshman. You can see your way to 53 seats without much trouble at all. And if you squint real hard, you can see even farther.
(2) Finally, some great Republicans: Remember the old Bob Dole line about the 1994 election and how, if he'd known that Republicans were going to take the Senate, he'd have gotten better candidates? Well this year, the Republicans have better candidates, from Bell in New Jersey to Ed Gillespie in Virginia to Cory Gardner in Colorado.
And the dream candidates are Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Ben Sasse in Nebraska. If those two make it to office, they'll add intellectual heft to the majority straight away. The sky's the limit for them.
But of course, you can't have a wish list like this without the shameful joy, which brings us to …
(3) Wendy Davis, exit stage left: Make no mistake—Wendy Davis is going to lose to Gregg Abbott in the Texas governor's race. But just because that's foreordained doesn't mean it won't be worth savoring her loss. Because when the knives come out during the recriminations fight, two Democratic constituencies will be pitted against one another: ultra-liberal women (for whom Davis is an icon) versus Hispanic-Americans (who aren't that warm to her and may not turn out for her). People tend to assume that the Democratic coalition can endure indefinitely. The aftermath of the Davis loss will test that proposition.
(4) Sean Eldridge de-friends New York state: There's no race I'll be watching more closely than New York's 19th district, where Sean Eldridge faces incumbent Republican (and Army veteran) Chris Gibson.
If you've never heard of Eldridge, he's a 27-year-old who got rich by marrying Chris Hughes, who got rich by being roommates with Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard. (See the Washington Free Beacon's collection of reporting on Eldridge for a fuller picture.)
Eldridge has done little in his adult life save moving from town to town in New York state, searching for a congressional district to buy with his husband's (found) money. Last year Eldridge settled on the 19th District. If the 2014 wave swamps his campaign, it'll be the best schadenfreude of the day.
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