In his National Journal column, Charlie Cook reminds us why it’s so important for Republicans to maximize their Senate opportunities in November 2014:

The reason next year is so make-or-break for Senate Republicans is because in 2016, when all of the seats they won in 2010 come up—they netted a six-seat net gain that year—there will be 24 GOP seats up, compared with only 10 for Democrats, leading to some serious Republican overexposure. Seven of the 24 GOP senators up are hailing from states that Obama carried in 2012. After having had plentiful Democratic targets in 2012 and 2014, it will be Republicans in 2016 who will have the most incumbents in the crosshairs.

2016, moreover, being a presidential election year, is likely to produce the kind of relatively high turnout that tends to help Democrats disproportionately. So for those Republicans who did not consider 2012 a “now and never” opportunity after which conservatives would be submerged in a wave of dusky looters, 2014 is a very big deal. When one seeks a radical counter-revolution overturning decades of “socialist” policies, control of the entire federal government is a must. The Senate could be gone for a good while is GOPers don’t win it back next year. Cook is telling Republicans they can’t afford an O’Donnell or a Mourdock or an Angle or an Akin in 2014. But those kinds of candidates are exactly what frustrated “constitutional conservatives” will promote to ensure that the next Big Move in Congress isn’t thwarted by internal dissension like the Defund Obamacare crusade was this year.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.