Top Links: Kondik, Silver show tight race for control of Senate in 2014

Majority Leader McConnell? Not yet. But maybe. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Majority Leader McConnell? Not yet. But maybe. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Mitch McConnell

Top story: Two men. Two analyses. One inevitable conclusion: Republicans may take control of the Senate next year — “may” being an operative, Rorschach of a word at this moment.

  • University of Virginia’s Kyle Kondik and noted poll Grandmaster Nate Silver both have stories to tell on 2014. That story? Be very afraid, Democrats. Republicans could take the Senate in 2014. (Sabato’s Crystal Ball) and (Five Thirty-Eight)
  • That’s because Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats took a big hit when Montana’s popular Democratic former governor, Brian Schweitzer, decided not to run for the open seat Democrats now hold. (The Fix)
  • As Silver says, this — plus possible wins of Dem-held seats in South Dakota and West Virginia — “gives Republicans a running start.” That is, three of the six seats they need to reach 51 seats. (Five Thirty-Eight)
  • Of course, both men pepper their reporting with caveats. As Kondik tweets, “Senate isn’t quite a ‘toss-up’ yet - I’d still rather be Ds right now, if only b/c of Biden tiebreak - but it’s close” (Kyle Kondik)
  • Democrats, meanwhile, may have to focus on underdog races where they’ve managed to attract strong candidates: Kentucky (vs. Sen. McConnell) and Georgia (open seat). (Roll Call)
  • The other thing to remember is message, which isn’t always Republicans’ “thing.” And for 2014, Sen. McConnell tells us he has an old favorite lined up: Obamacare. Yup, Obamacare: the “fruitcake at Christmas” of GOP messaging. (Manu Raju)
  • “After smashing success of his “one term president” strategy in 2012, Mitch McConnell claims Obamacare will be No. 1 issue in 2014” (The Plum Line)
  • Of course, just because Republicans MAY win the Senate in 2014, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll hold it in 2016, where the map swings back to Democrats’ favor. (The Washington Examiner)
  • The Atlantic’s Matt O’Brien: “As usual, control of the Senate will come down to whether GOPers say things about rape” (Matthew O’Brien)