How likely is this scenario? Drilling further into the data, it appears well within the GOP’s grasp. All three Senate tossup seats are in states Mitt Romney won in 2012. Four of Cook’s seven “lean Democrat” seats are in Mitt Romney states as well: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Republicans once again appear to have the wind at their backs as in 2010, with more unpopular policy choices and the added drag of White House scandals dragging down congressional candidates.
As the full weight of Obamacare begins to impact Americans' everyday lives, driving up premiums and causing millions of employers to drop coverage, its unpopularity seems likely to grow. A NBCNews/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month found disapproval of the law at an all-time high at 49 percent (up from 44 percent a year ago); only 37 percent think the law is a good idea. Those senators who voted for and championed its passage must now stand for re-election. Senators like Alaska’s Mark Begich, Arkansas’ Mark Pryor, and North Carolina’s Kay Hagan will face high hurdles indeed.
The three tossup seats of Iowa, Montana and West Virginia are all vacancies due to the retirements of Senators Tom Harkin, Max Baucus, and Jay Rockefeller respectively. Baucus, who helped shepherd Obamacare through its narrow Senate passage, famously called its implementation to date a “train wreck” and shortly thereafter announced his retirement. Add to that train wreck the Obama Administration’s IRS, State and Justice Department scandals, as well as slow economic growth and record deficits, and one understands why only 31 percent of Americans feel the nation is on the right track (down from over 40 percent last fall).
Sixty-two percent believe we are on the wrong track: this almost exactly the same figure as in November of 2010. The motivation to bring about a re-balancing of power in Washington looks very high.
One caveat for those freedom-loving Americans who want to bring about real change and hold the executive branch accountable to the people: guard against Pyrrhic victories. This is no time for milk toast Republicans. Ending up with a majority in name only and with senators who are more a hindrance than an aid to true reformers would be tragic. The future of the country rests on bold action. Senators that states like Alaska, North Carolina, Montana, Iowa and West Virginia send to Washington will hold the keys to a better tomorrow in their hands, as well as the power to stand by as the country continues down its current perilous path.