Democrats are sounding upbeat that they can take back the Senate in 2016, when the White House is also up for grabs, by winning the states carried by President Barack Obama in one or both of his campaigns.
Republican strategist Karl Rove, writing in The Wall Street Journal,
advised Democrats not to bank on carrying the states Obama captured in 2012.
Democrats have argued that a presidential election "can only help" them, but Rove is "skeptical."
Republicans hold a 54 to 44 majority in the 114th Congress, with two independents caucusing with the Democrats.
"Not a single Republican seat in a red state looks at risk today," according to Rove, while Democrats "will be playing defense" in Harry Reid's Nevada and in Colorado where Michael Bennet is not hugely popular.
For a majority, the Democrats would need to overcome five of seven Republican incumbents in states Obama won twice — Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. "Or five of eight Republicans if you add North Carolina, which Mr. Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012," Rove wrote.
What hopeful Democrats are missing is that "the states Republicans won in 2014 tilted far more Republican than the states with GOP incumbents up next year tilt Democrat."
Obama carried all these states — save Illinois — by comparatively small, single-digit margins.
Democrats will be facing "hard to beat" incumbents in at least seven out of those eight states. In the eighth case, Marco Rubio's Florida, there are two strong candidates waiting to step in if he decides to run for the Republican presidential nomination, according to Rove.
At the same time, viable Democratic candidates are not lining up to campaign. Potentially favored, former elected officials have shown little indication they want to run. And while enough Democratic congressmen in Florida and Illinois are making noises about running, they're setting the stage in those states for "expensive, debilitating primaries," wrote Rove.
All the while, the Republican incumbents are building up their campaign organizations, raising money, and solidifying records of accomplishment likely to also appeal to independents and Democrats, according to Rove.
"The Democratic Senate campaign chairman, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, says, 'I will not be successful in this job unless we take the majority back.' Twenty-one months before the election, Republicans are working hard to make Mr. Tester's tenure unsuccessful,'" Rove concluded.
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