Larry Sabato: Conditions Not Good for Democrats in November

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 12:00 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Adopting meteorological metaphors, Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics predicts a Republican wave — possibly a tidal wave — in November’s midterm elections, Politico reports.

While Democrats "can hope for fearsome-sounding waves that crash loudly but do little structural damage, Republicans … are rooting for an impressive tidal wave, if not a full-fledged historic tsunami," he said.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

There’s an expectation that the GOP has at least a 50 percent or better likelihood of winning the needed six seats to regain control of the Senate and "dethrone Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid," he said.

"We know that the president is unpopular, the president’s party typically performs poorly in midterms, and the Democrats are overextended on this year’s Senate map," according to Sabato. "One of the ways the Republicans could hurt their chances is by running bad candidates in some of these races."

Under a forecast most favorable to Democrats, they would add a seat – either in Georgia or Kentucky – or at worst, limit the GOP’s pickups to five (Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia). But according to Sabato, the chances of the former occurring is "a miniscule notch above zero," while the latter is probable only if President Barack Obama stabilizes, and Republicans make a gaffe or two.

Under current conditions, he writes, the forecast calls for the GOP to add the needed six seats (he predicts Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, and West Virginia), with a "likely best plausible Republican result" if there’s a GOP surge and an Obama fail. Under those elements, Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina would also move to the right.

A Republican tidal wave – a gain of 11 seats – stands just an "outside chance," according to Sabato, while a tsunami – a gain of 14 seats – is unlikely unless Obama has a "near-total collapse" and Democrats run subpar campaigns.

Sabato fingers 14 Democratic seats as "marginally practical targets" for the GOP. In order of vulnerability, they are South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Virginia, and Oregon.

Democrats should prepare to let go of the Mount Rushmore State and the Mountain State, according to Sabato, since both have put up strong Republican candidates and in the case of South Dakota, national Democrats have done little to help likely nominee Rick Weiland.

"Put it all together, and the current forecast calls for a wave that’s more than a ripple but less than a tsunami – a four- to eight-seat addition for the Republicans, with the higher end of the range being a shade likelier than the lower," Sabato writes. "For Harry Reid, that would be a big-enough splash."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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