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What It Means if the GOP Wins the Senate

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Nate Silver made waves on Sunday when he predicted a GOP win in the mid-term Senate elections.

After Silver’s success predicting the 2012 elections, many are keeping a close eye on what he says this year. However, the media response could be counting chicks before the eggs have hatched.

“It’s too soon to say if the Republicans will take the Senate in 2014,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington. “The Republicans probably would have had a Senate majority by now if they had not nominated some right-wing tea party extremists who scared moderate voters.”

Even with higher public support, the president’s party would have a tough time winning these states in a midterm election.
David A. Jones

If the prediction does turn out to be correct, though, it could spell doom for the Obama administration.

“If the Republicans win the Senate, the Obama presidency will basically be over,” Farnsworth said. “Between investigations and stalling tactics, a GOP-led Congress will just tread water until the 2016 election.”

It could also increase tea party power, according to Chad Murphy, assistant professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington.

“If Republicans have majorities in both the House and Senate, the tea party will have a much larger voice even if the new Republicans are moderates,” he said. “If the tea party fully embraces this and allows candidates to run as moderates in swing states, the Republican chances of taking over the Senate increase tenfold.”

It’s worth noting even if the GOP does win the Senate, that doesn’t mean Americans approve of the party’s policies; it’s just part of how the political machine runs.

“Republicans will gain seats despite their extraordinarily low approval ratings,” said David A. Jones, associate professor of political science at James Madison University.

“That is mostly because the president’s party nearly always loses seats in midterm elections, especially when the president’s approval ratings are low and economic growth is sluggish. Also, it’s very important to note that nearly all of the Senate seats that are up for grabs are in red states — i.e., states that Mitt Romney won in 2012.  Even with higher public support, the president’s party would have a tough time winning these states in a midterm election.”

For context, a Gallup poll in October 2013 showed that only 28 percent of Americans view the GOP favorably, contrasted by 43 percent viewing Democrats favorably.

This case hasn’t been tried yet in the court of public opinion, however, and Democrats still have a fighting chance.

“(Republicans) could also nominate some highly flawed nominees this cycle, and that may keep the Dems in control of the upper chamber once again,” Farnsworth explained.

While the future is uncertain, history may provide a more optimistic note than might be expected.

“It is difficult to imagine a GOP-controlled House and Senate cooperating with the president on any major piece of legislation,” Jones said. “But who knows — President Clinton and a GOP-controlled Congress agreed to welfare reform in 1996 despite significant misgivings on both sides, especially among liberal Democrats.”

Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

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Paul S
Paul S

The world won't end.   Democrats will play 'block that shot' for four years just like Republicans did  in an attempt to make them look ineffective.

It's a lot easy to play offense when you're on the losing side.     

Nothing changes, I've seen the cycle before.

It's the reason I'm giving my energy to political reform and non-partisan empowerment.

Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

If the GOP wins the senate we're in deep du du. They will completely disassemble the Government as we now know it. The phrase, The fox guarding the hen house, would never be more true.Prepare for Wold War III. remember  what they did to us last October!


I saw one article that said Silver's prediction could actually help Democrats by creating a real incentive for massive fundraising efforts. I'll give his forecasts more weight come October.


"Republicans will gain seats despite their extraordinarily low approval ratings"
Pretty indicative of an electoral system that isnt working.

jake from state farm
jake from state farm

@Alex_G  Democrat approval ratings are higher until their proposals are unveiled!  We need electoral reforms such as NO EARLY VOTING!  Early voting creates an atmosphere where corruption can take hold.  Ballots sit around waiting to be counted for weeks on end!

Paul S
Paul S

@Alex_G  I'm reading Mickey Edwards book for the first time.   Should be required reading for anyone who questions the problems associated with partisanship.     Interesting that he accepts that we will always have ideological separation and that doesn't create the problem.   I have to read farther, but my sense of things, and maybe this is what he will say, is that partisanship influences how we process information and that moves us toward a specific ideology?   It is most certainly true that two deeply partisan individuals can absorb or be given identical facts or observable behavior and interpret them completely differently based on partisan bias.

Hmm, better get back to my reading.   It is fun to talk political policy or election dynamics but I like that Alex keeps me focused on the process and not so much the final product off a flawed political system.

Paul S
Paul S

@jake from state farm @Alex_G  Hey Jake,   I respectfully disagree.   I've never seen any proof of corruption coming from early voting.   I'm not saying it can't happen, but the possibity of computer theft or changing of votes seems far more likely if you think corruption is likely.

It may have unintended consequences, but early voting, or mail-in voting like we have in Oregon, is a LOT more convienient that single day voting and fighting a line.   It's surprising we even do that, some of the highest voting rate come from new democracy, run elections over serveral days up to a week.

Anything that encourages more voters brings us close to a participative democracy.   If for some reason people want to limit voting, I have to question just how democratic they are.   OH, that would include Democrats/Repub. that exclude American citizens from voting in the primary, cutting of the most critical sorting of candidate and giving the Party inflated influence.    That's the case in Oregon.