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Democrats Hungrily Eye House, Senate

Democrats Hungrily Eye House, Senate


Friday, 12 August 2016 09:59 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Buoyed by recent polls showing Hillary increasing her lead over Trump, Democrats are now talking of a sweep at the top of the ticket so immense that it may just give them control of both the House and the Senate.

Currently Senate Republicans hold an edge of 54 seats to 46 for the Democrats. A net gain of four for the Democrats will leave the Senate split 50-50 between the parties, with a Vice President Tim Kaine casting the tie-breaking vote to give the Democrats control.

With 34 Senate seats up for election this fall and 24 in Republican hands, the GOP must play an intense game of defense.

Moreover, no less than six Republican senators are considered vulnerable to defeat: Marco Rubio (Florida), Mark Kirk (Illinois), Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin). In addition, former Sen. Evan Bayh currently leads GOP Rep. Todd Young in the race for the Indiana seat of retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats.

In striking contrast, only one seat currently in Democratic hands is thought to have a chance of falling to a Republican: that of retiring Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada, where GOP Rep. Joe Heck is now locked in a tight struggle with Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general.

“We can expect a good bit of ticket splitting, even though it's been significantly on the decline since the 1980s,” said Franklin and Marshall College professor G. Terry Madonna, pollster in Pennsylvania, “But at some point it will be hard to get enough of them if one of the presidential candidates carries the state by ten points or more. That's a big hill to climb.”

Michael Barone, Washington Examiner columnist and one of the co-founders of “The Almanac of American Politics,” agreed.

Over the past two decades we have seen increasing straight ticket voting,” Barone told me, “This has come about, I believe, because there has been an increasing convergence on issues and attitudes of presidential and congressional candidates of each party.

“This year there seems to be less convergence, at least on the Republican side because of the peculiarities of Donald Trump, and there may be less on the Democratic side, to the extent that the party is fielding moderate candidates, even though there was a big drop-off between 2008 and 2016 in self-described moderates voting in Democratic presidential primaries.”

But Barone also pointed out that “current polling in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere suggests there will be less straight-ticket voting, at least in some high profile Senate races.”

Asked if there will be enough ticket-splitting for Republicans to retain Senate control even after a big Clinton win, Dr. Christopher Hull, political scientist and author, replied: “In a word, no. In 2012 we hit a 100-year low in ticket-splitting.”

Hull believes that “this election may be an aberration, with conservatives in chaos swirling in the Trump tornado. But we are more likely to see a realignment where they eventually come to earth all in the same party. Whether that party remains the Republican Party, or it goes the way of the Whigs, remains to be seen.”

Much more optimistic about GOP chances of holding the Senate was Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Norquist pointed to recent electoral history and noted “Reagan’s landslide in 1984 won the GOP only one new Senate seat — that won by Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, and that was a very personalized victory.

“Nixon swept the 1972 race and Democrats held the Senate. Clinton won in 1996 and the GOP held its newly minted Senate.”

He characterized the Democratic vision of a Clinton tidal wave capturing the Senate for Democrats as “wishful thinking on their part, and they hope it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.






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Buoyed by recent polls showing Hillary increasing her lead over Trump, Democrats are now talking of a sweep at the top of the ticket so immense that it may just give them control of both the House and the Senate.
hillary, trump, elections, 2016
Friday, 12 August 2016 09:59 AM
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