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November 27, 2013 3:50 PM “Dems In Disarray,” Senate ‘14 Edition

By Ed Kilgore

We might as well get used to this sort of headline: “The Hotline’s Senate Race Ratings: Democrats On Defense.”

Now such headlines promote the ever-popular “Democrats in Disarray” meme, at present all the rage in light of the widespread pundit belief that Obama’s popularity is in free fall, and that the midterm elections will be all about negative feelings towards Obamacare. The subheader of the National Journal piece—“thirteen of the 15 seats most likely to switch are Democratic-held”—certainly reinforce that impression.

But if you actually read the National Journal piece on the rate ratings, the main news is no news. Thanks to a really difficult basic landscape—20 Democrats are up next year, as opposed to 13 Republicans, with seven Democrats up in states carried by Mitt Romney—supplemented by the usual GOP advantage in midterm turnout patterns and five Democratic retirements—the key battlegrounds are exactly where they seemed to be months ago. The main changes in the Hotline ratings involve lifting four races (CO, MN, NH and OR) into the lowest tier of possible long-shot turnover possibilities just in case things generally get worse for Democrats. In some cases the odds of an upset have been marginally upgraded because GOPers have managed to recruit actual candidates, but that’s a long way from projecting a “wave.” And nothing’s happened lately to reduce the possibility of GOP primaries in KY and GA producing a general election nightmare.

Still, reproduction of the same difficult fundamentals for Democrats in Senate races will be exploited by Republicans, and by some sensation-seeking MSM folk, into scary new developments. Don’t buy it.

In 2016, the Senate landscape will turn sharply in favor of Democrats, as will the turnout patterns. Will we read a ton of “GOP In Disarray” stories then? We’ll see, but I doubt it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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