U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) serves as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. When asked in July, 2010 if the Republicans could win control of the U.S. Senate in 2010, he responded in the negative, stating “I think it’s going to be a two-cycle process.”
Back in July, I agreed with Senator Cornyn. The political math seemed to completely preclude any possibility of a GOP takeover.
The Democrats currently have a 59-41 advantage over the Republicans in the Senate. This year’s election includes 37 Senate seats, 19 of which are currently held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans.
The Republicans must attain a net gain of 10 seats in order to win control of the Senate. Of the 19 Democratic seats up for election, 8 were considered “Safe Democrat” in July, leaving only 11 seats as possibly winnable for the Republicans. The GOP would have to win 10 of these 11 seats, plus hold onto Republican seats which were then considered toss-ups in Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. Thus, in July, 2010, the necessary net gain of ten seats seemed impossible for the GOP to achieve.
Since July, however, the national political climate has changed dramatically in favor of the Republicans. Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in the Gallup Poll weekly tracking of 2010 Congressional voting preferences. This 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP’s largest so far this year and its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress. There is now little doubt that the Republican Party will win the 40 seats necessary to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
This generic advantage has also given the GOP Senate candidates in Ohio (Rob Portman), Kentucky (Rand Paul), and Florida (Marco Rubio) a huge boost. Portman, Rand, and Rubio now all enjoy double digit leads over their opponents. Republican victories in these three contests will ensure that the GOP will not lose any of the U.S. Senate seats it currently holds.
The question then becomes whether the GOP can win 10 of the 11 Democratic Senate seats “in play”, to wit: Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Nevada, California, and Wisconsin. Last week, RealClearPolitics.com and Larry Sabato, the highly respected