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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Getting Used to “Dems In Disarray” Reporting on Senate ’14

It should be safe to say that most analytically-oriented Democrats know that hanging onto the Senate in 2014 will be difficult, though hardly impossible. The landscape is bad in two respects: 20 of 33 seats up are Democratic; seven of those 20 are in states carried by Mitt Romney; and there were five Democratic retirements. Then there’s the turnout factor; as regular readers know, the normal “falloff’ in youth and minority voting in midterms has become especially damaging to the Donkey Party of late.
On the other hand, it will take six pickups for Republicans to gain control of the Senate. GOPers can’t afford many mistakes, and fractious primaries are on tap in KY, GA, SC, TN, WY, and perhaps other states.
Still, it is deeply annoying to see this pro-GOP tilted Senate landscape being touted in support of the latest conservative/MSM narrative of collapsing Democratic support-levels. I issued a protest and warning at Washington Monthly today:

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….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.

It does make you wonder if we’ll see equivalent treatment of the next Senate cycle:

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.

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