September 8, 2016

Senate Democrats Freaking Out About Dwindling Majority Prospects

Senate Democrats are in full panic mode right now. For a year they’ve believed that they were going to take back the Senate majority. Yet Election Day is two months from today and they’re facing a radically tougher map than they expected.

Yesterday DSCC Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) stood before his Senate colleagues and told them that if the election were today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would keep his majority:

“Senate Dems’ campaign chair urged members to mobilize to take back the Senate. The campaign chairman for Senate Democrats on Wednesday warned his colleagues that if the elections were held today, the party would gain only three Senate seats, according to lawmakers who were in the room. That outcome would leave Democrats one seat short of the majority…”

According to the report in The Hill, Tester is not the only member of the Senate Democratic Conference who has “real fears” of a continued Republican majority:

“Yet the remark from the leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), made during the caucus’s weekly lunch, reflects real fears among Senate Democrats that they could fall short in November. While Senate Democrats have a favorable electoral map, they say a deluge of spending from outside groups has buoyed vulnerable Republican incumbents such as Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), who had been a top target.”

The Democratic headwinds heading into fall campaign are two-fold. One significant impediment for Democrats is that Hillary Clinton has had a negative influence on down ballot races. In the Florida Senate race, Patrick Murphy has been tied to Hillary Clinton’s historically high untrustworthy numbers. Ohio is another state where Clinton’s 55% unfavorable rating are no help to their candidate, Ted Strickland.

Strickland’s struggles also highlight the other major obstacle for Senate Democrats; they’ve got awful Senate recruits. As Roll Call put it, Strickland is such a bad candidate he made a competitive race “safe for Republicans”:

“Easily the cycle’s most disappointing Senate candidate. If Bayh is the kind of Democratic nominee who can make a safe-Republican race competitive, Strickland is the opposite, the kind of Democratic nominee who can make a competitive race safe for Republicans.”

The American people know the Republican Senate is back to work. When you add that to Hillary Clinton’s historic unpopularity and the losers they recruited, it must leave Chuck Schumer up at night.