The stunning and tragic news about the sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia was a stark reminder about the importance of the U.S. Senate.
During the first two years of the Obama Administration, there were 58 to 60 Democrats in the Senate, including two independents who caucused with the Democrats — Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman.
The very liberal Senate voted for President Barack Obama’s nomination of two very liberal judges to become Supreme Court justices. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have been responsible for gay marriage becoming legal in the U.S. by a 5-4 Court vote, upholding Obamacare twice, and other liberal decisions that aren’t justified by the U.S. Constitution.
In 2014, the American people soundly rejected the liberalism of the Democratic Party by voting against several senators who voted for Sotomayor and Kagan and awarding the Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.
Now we are facing an equally important Senate election. Today we’ll look at all the candidates and examine which seats may be up for grabs.
Currently, there are 54 Republicans in the U.S. Senate. The fact that there are about 13 more Republicans in the Senate than there were six years ago means that an Obama nomination of someone like Sotomayor and Kagan will almost certainly be rejected.
But what will happen if the American people elect Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders president in November, 2016, and the number of Republican senators ousted from office is similar to the number of Democratic senators defeated in 2014 or 2010? There will still be enough Republican senators to filibuster a Clinton or Sanders nomination, but there will be tremendous public pressure to fill the Scalia vacancy.
More alarmingly, it’s statistically possible that the Democrats could win a filibuster-proof majority in the 2016 elections because 24 Senate seats held by Republicans and only 10 Senate seats held by Democrats are at stake.
The bottom line is that it’s possible that the next Supreme Court justice could be a liberal so the 2016 Senate elections are extremely important. Today’s article looks at the 21 Republicans who are seeking re-election (Florida’s Marco Rubio, Indiana’s Dan Coats, and Louisiana’s David Vitter are retiring). Part II of this series will look at the other 13 elections.
Only Two Underdogs
Of the 21 incumbent Republican senators, only TWO are underdogs, according to an analysis of the Senate races by three widely respected objective analysts — The Cook Political Report, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
The two underdogs are first-term senators from neighboring Midwestern states — Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Kirk was elected by a tiny margin in one of the most liberal states in the nation in 2010. He suffered a serious stroke in 2012 and is also regarded by many conservatives as a RINO.
According to a chart that summarizes the most recent ratings, The Cook Political Report regards the race as a tossup and the other two analysts rate Kirk an underdog to probable Democratic Party nominee Duckworth.
Johnson, who has been an excellent conservative senator, soundly defeated three-term incumbent Russ Feingold in 2010. Feingold is trying to get his old seat back and is the favorite according to Sabato, while the other two analysts rate the race a tossup. It’s unclear why Wisconsin voters would change their minds, but other political analysts also rate Johnson an underdog.
The third most endangered Republican senator is Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. She’s a squishy conservative, not quite a RINO. She is being challenged by Governor Maggie Hassan. Two of the three aforementioned analysts rate the race a tossup, while Ayotte is favored by the third.
The fourth and fifth most endangered Republican senators are Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Cook, Rothenberg, and Sabato rate both of these senators as slight favorites, but this website would be irresponsible if it didn’t acknowledge that many commentators believe that their re-election bids could be tossups. They are senators in two of the most important states in the presidential election and both parties will spend tens of millions of dollars on ads in both states.
If Kirk, Johnson, Ayotte, Portman, and Toomey lost while the incumbent party won the other 29 races, the Democrats would regain the Senate.
That’s not likely, of course, since the GOP could flip Nevada, Colorado, and other states, but it’s important to acknowledge that the Republican Party’s hold on the Senate could be tenuous because of the contests in Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The only two other GOP senators who aren’t “likely” winners according all three analysts are John McCain of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina. They’re both favored, but one analyst rates McCain’s seat as “lean R” while two analysts rate Burr’s seat as “lean R.” McCain, a RINO during large parts of his career, might be challenged in a Republican primary by a more conservative Republican.
The eighth, ninth, and 10th most vulnerable Republican senators are Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Their Senate seats are rated as likely Republican holds or “safe” Republican seats.
Here’s the really, really………….really good news — 11 of the 21 Republican senators who are seeking re-election in 2016 are regarded as such heavy favorites that their races are considered uncompetitive. In other words, they are considered safe bets to be re-elected.
The 11 GOP senators who should cruise to re-election are:
* Richard Shelby of Alabama.
* John Boozman of Arkansas.
* Mike Crapo of Idaho.
* Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
* Jerry Moran of Kansas.
* Rand Paul of Kentucky.
* John Hoeven of North Dakota.
* James Lankford of Oklahoma.
* Tim Scott of South Carolina.
* John Thune of South Dakota.
* Mike Lee of Utah.
Many prognosticators have written that the Democrats have a good chance of regaining the Senate in 2016, but that projection doesn’t appear likely when you analyze the re-election chances of the 21 incumbent Republicans race by race.