At this point, eight months before the Nov. 4 election, it’s hard to see a lot of good news for congressional Democrats.
No matter how you look at it, the House seems out of reach. Today, Republicans appear a bit more likely to gain than to lose seats; it would take a cataclysmic event for Democrats to score the net gain of the 17 seats they need to take the majority.
What’s changed is that Democrats’ chances of holding onto their majority in the Senate is looking increasingly tenuous. There are now at least 10, and potentially as many as 13, Democratic-held seats in jeopardy. By contrast, only two GOP seats are in any meaningful danger, and that number hasn’t changed in six months.
In other words, Cook is predicting the GOP getting 58 seats if everything breaks their way. That would put them in range of 60, especially if such a crushing margin caused Maine Independent Angus King to flip from caucusing with the Dems. That would be 59. And if you believe that, well, remember 2012?
Things are starting to look grisly for Senate Democrats. President Obama’s approval ratings average 41 percent, basically where President George W. Bush’s poll numbers were at this point before his own disastrous 2006 second-term, midterm election. And the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative and policy achievement, is now even more unpopular than it was in October and November of 2010, when Democrats lost 63 seats, control of the House, and a half-dozen Senate seats. It doesn’t help that midterm electorates tend to be older and whiter than in presidential elections. Obama’s current job-approval ratings are also worse than they were in October and November of 2010.
The two most likely legislative land mines for Republicans to step on between now and Election Day have been defused: The government is now funded, and Congress won’t need to lift the debt ceiling between now and November. As a result, it is not clear where the kind of break that Democrats need could emerge.
On the other hand, Cook believes President Obama is "radioactive" and that the Democrats are doomed anyway.
Of course, they were doomed to lose the Senate in 2012, too. And in 2016, it'll be the Republicans who have to defend their Senate Tea Party gains from 2010 in states like Ohio and Illinois. If the Dems can hold out in November, 2016 is looking really good.
But in order to do that, we need people to vote in November.