As it stands this afternoon, Democrats maintain a Senate majority of 53 seats (technically, 51 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them). For Republicans to retake the majority in the chamber, they’ll need a net gain for three seats if Romney/Ryan wins, or four seats if Obama/Biden wins.
Politico’s Mike Allen asked the National Republican Senatorial Committee about its expectations.
“Given the uncertainties of any cycle – from an unexpected retirement to the challenge of running in tough states like Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada – we always believed we’d likely have to net 5 seats to win the majority and that, despite the outsized expectations by many in Washington, history wasn’t on our side. Only two times in the last 40-plus years – 1980 and 2008 – has either party picked up 5 or more Senate seats in a Presidential cycle.
“Nonetheless, despite some additional unexpected setbacks, we’re going into Election Day with an opportunity to add to our 2010 gains - and in what certainly appears to be a non-wave election, that’s not a bad position to be in.”
One doesn’t have to read between the lines much to see that the National Republican Senatorial Committee does not expect to win a Senate majority this year. But what’s striking in this quote is the notion that, as far as Republicans are concerned, they’ve “always” believed “history” wasn’t on their side in 2012.
That’s simply not true. After the 2010 midterms, given the number of seats Democrats had to defend, coupled with the number of incumbent Democratic retirements, it was practically a foregone conclusion among Republicans that they’d reclaim the majority.
Half-hearted spin notwithstanding, that this now appears unlikely has to be a crushing disappointment for the GOP.