(Bloomberg) – Some political analysts say the Republicans have a shot at gaining the six seats they need to control the Senate in the upcoming November elections.
“The Republicans are at least even money — and maybe a little better than that — at taking over the Senate,” according to Stu Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
“It’s too early to make a precise prediction, except to say that Democrats are nearly certain to lose Senate seats,” Sam Wang, who since 2004 has used mathematical formulas and polling data to predict elections for the Princeton Election Consortium, said in an e-mail.
Democratic efforts to maintain control are burdened by relatively low approval ratings for President Obama and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
The Democrats are defending more seats than the Republicans are, and the Republicans could benefit from midterm electorate demographics: Midterm voters tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the voters who show up for presidential elections.
Since the end of World War II, the party allied with the president has lost ground in the Senate in 12 of 17 midterm elections.
Wang, a neuroscientist at Princeton University, said major factors that will go into his calculations include Obama’s approval ratings and whether Republicans can field candidates that will appeal to a broader electorate.
In recent elections, Republicans have nominated Senate candidates who “appealed to primary voters, but who alienated voters in the general election,” Wang said.
Among the examples he cited was when then-U.S. Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware was upset in a 2010 Republican Senate primary by Christine O’Donnell, a favorite of the limited-government Tea Party movement who during the general election campaign was forced to deny she was a witch and went on to lose to a Democrat.
“In other words, Republicans run the risk of underperforming expectations,” Wang said. “Basically, the odds are 50-50, and anyone who makes a more precise prediction is out on a limb.”
Jennifer Duffy, who studies Senate races as a senior editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington, agreed with that analysis.
“I think we stand at a jump ball,” she said. “We need some primaries to get out of the way, from Georgia to North Carolina, before we’ll know more.”
Obama would have a weaker negotiating position if Republicans held both the House and Senate, and that would also likely make it harder for him to get his judicial and other appointees confirmed. He would also likely spend some of the last two years in office vetoing anti-Obamacare legislation.
“It would cripple the presidency,” Rothenberg said.