Here Come the Predictions

Today and tomorrow you will read a lot of 2013 wrap-ups and 2014 predictions. In the latter category, I’d say Chris Cillizza’s piece today at WaPo’s The Fix is pretty typical: one fairly obvious prediction (the gerrymandered House will stay in GOP hands); one chunk of current CW (Obamacare, and particularly Obama’s “lie” about the tiny segment of the population being forced to accept better health insurance, will be the issue of 2014) projected into the future; and then one Fun Scenario: control of the Senate comes down to Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy will head to a December runoff, thus providing a sort of extended unemployment insurance for campaign hacks.

Well, since we’re going to obsess all year long over Senate races, here’s a prediction I’m going to make: if Republican do manage to win control of the Upper Chamber, it will almost certainly end in 2016, no matter what happens in the presidential election.

You think the ’14 Senate landscape, with its anachronistic emphasis on southern Democratic incumbents, is skewed? Check out what happens two years from now: 24 of 34 seats will be Republican-held. All ten Democratic seats at risk will be in states Barack Obama carried twice. And seven of the GOP seats will also be in Obamaland. Just as importantly, the large presidential electorate, in which the “Obama Coalition” is much stronger disproportionately than in midterms, will be back, with a few more years of pro-Democratic demographic trends baked into the batter.

So even if Mitch McConnell survives both a primary and general election challenge and emerges (as Cillizza suggests) from a December night of excitement as Senate Majority Leader, he shouldn’t get used to it. He’ll be back in the minority in two years, and quite possibly out of leadership as vengeful conservatives blame him for losing the Senate.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.