According to Andrew
By Andrew Geisler, For The Miami Student
Election day is Tuesday, and it’s likely that the GOP will take back the Senate with a slim majority. National Republicans should pat themselves on the back for their solid candidate recruitment and commitment to a strong turnout operation this cycle, but understand the limits of the impending victory.
It’s good to be realistic, so let’s start with the limits. Heading into this cycle there were Democratic Senators from the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia and South Dakota. A few days out the only seat Democrats can feel confident they’re keeping of that bunch is North Carolina, but that race is a toss-up.
What do all the aforementioned states have in common? They went for Mitt Romney in 2012 and, other than North Carolina, all are pretty deep red states. This means a changing of the guard in these states was natural. Winning back these states will be like making your free throws in a basketball game.
Another factor that limits the importance of a Republican victory: the six-year itch. Since Reconstruction every two-term president, but Bill Clinton has seen their party drop seats in both houses of Congress. Polls indicate Republicans will win back about six more seats in the House, and also take back the Senate. The Obama presidency, though it tried to pretend it could beat back against the historical currents of the American political system, looks as if it will fall victim to yet another common political occurrence.
Enough of the gloom and doom — the last two Senate cycles Republicans have had similarly strong fundamental advantages, and have found a way to screw it up with terrible candidates. That did not happen this cycle. Candidates like Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Cory Gardner in Colorado, though both locked in tight races that appear to be breaking for them late, represent the future of the Republican party in a way that someone like Todd Akin never could.
They also found a way to make states like Iowa and New Hampshire competitive with solid candidates. Both races are toss-ups headed into election day, but it would not be surprising to see a Joni Ernst victory or Scott Brown’s return to the Senate.
On the turnout front, after the 2012 election, the Republican party understood it had a problem with its use of new technology as a voter turnout tool. Democrats simply turned out their base much more effectively than Republicans in 2012, so the GOP has invested heavily in closing that gap. If Tuesday is a disappointment, we will know the party did not do enough to close the tech gap with Democrats.
Now for a reality check: the nature of the Senate means Tuesday’s results do not really mean that much substantively. George Washington compared the world’s greatest deliberative body to a saucer that cools hot tea for good reason. Even if Republicans have the Senate majority, the filibuster and a refusal to operate quickly using unanimous consent means the Senate will probably still move at a snail’s pace.
But if the polls are right and Republicans are able to control the both houses of Congress headed into 2016, it will operate as a solid confidence booster. For a party that has won the popular vote in a presidential election just once since 1992, not messing up an easy victory is something to celebrate.