Sabato: GOP Could Pick Up Four to Eight Senate Seats

Thursday, 22 May 2014 09:53 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The Democratic Party will have a difficult time retaining its Senate majority in the 2014 midterm elections, and the party is facing long odds of winning Senate races in Kentucky and Georgia, Larry Sabato's Center for Politics at the University of Virginia predicted.

An analysis by the organization issued Thursday also predicts that Republicans are almost certain to make gains in this year's Senate elections, and the six seats they need to regain control of the Senate appear to be within reach.

"The Crystal Ball's most recent Senate ratings predict a GOP pickup of between four and eight seats in November," says the report in Sabato's Crystal Ball, written by Alan I. Abramowitz, adding that several statistical forecasting models have given Republicans at least a 50-50 chance of gaining six or more seats this year.

The report said that while Democrats have been bullish about their chances of taking back two seats held by Republicans — Kentucky and Georgia — "there are several reasons to be skeptical about Democrats' chances."

Kentucky hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992, and President Barack Obama lost the state by 16 points in 2008 and 23 points in 2012, the analysis said. In Georgia, no Democrat has won a Senate contest in the state since 2000, and the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state was Bill Clinton in 1992.

The report adds that Democrats will have to overcome another obstacle to win those seats: a nationalization trend in which voters' decisions are increasingly influenced by their opinions of the incumbent president's performance.

"If as expected, Republicans pick up several Senate seats currently held by Democrats in November, Democrats will find it difficult to offset these losses by picking up seats currently held by Republicans in Kentucky and Georgia," according to the analysis.

"Almost every election now brings with it the potential for a shift in party control of the Senate, and the 2014 midterm election is no exception."

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