Senate Democrats showed they have what it takes to win in unfriendly territory in 2012, but the task may be tougher in 2014.
In order to repeat their strong performance, Democrats will have to stay on offense, according to Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report. “The DSCC went out and recruited in places that looked laughable at the time, and hit gold a bunch of times,” Cook told Chuck Todd on The Daily Rundown Monday.
Twelve Democrats currently hold Senate seats in states that Mitt Romney won this election, including five that won their elections this year. One of the most impressive performances belonged to West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin who won a Senate seat by 25 points even as President Obama lost the state by 26 points, representing more than a 50 point swing.
On the other side of the aisle, nine Republicans hold Senate states in blue states where President Obama won in 2012. Only one of those was up for re-election this time around: Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller. He who won a narrow re-election victory despite the president winning the state by six points.
Both parties will face challenges in trying to hold or regain ground in 2014. Democrats will be defending 20 of the 33 seats up for grabs, and some high-profile retirements could improve Republican odds of claiming Senate control. But Cook remarked that the Republican Party has problems at all levels that need to be addressed immediately.
“I think [the GOP is] having a hard time getting the same caliber candidates they used to get,” he said. “Sometimes when they do get in, they’re not able to win their nominations because the party base has gotten so exotic and gone off, overboard with other people. Or three, when they do win the nomination, a lot of times the brand is so damaged in bad states…they can’t win.”
In other words, there are a lot of issues to fix and not a lot of time to to fix them.