independent analysts are increasingly bullish on Republican prospects of gaining the six seats the party needs to win control of the chamber.
Such an outcome would alter the legislative calculus in Washington, assuming the U.S. House remains in Republican hands, as most expect. Control of both chambers would allow the party to showcase policy proposals before the 2016 presidential race — and try to undermine the opposition’s ideas.
It would also dramatically change the final two years of Barack Obama’s Democratic presidency, a turnabout that has plagued administrations throughout history. Six years into Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, Republicans won control of Congress in 1918 and then rejected his proposal to join the League of Nations, which he had promoted as an international peace-keeping organization after World War I.
“The Republicans are at least even money — and maybe a little better than that — at taking over the Senate,” said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Washington-based nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
Democratic efforts to maintain control are burdened by relatively low approval ratings for Obama and the Affordable Care Act, as well as demographics favoring Republicans because midterm electorates tend to be older and whiter than in presidential years. Democrats are also defending more seats than Republicans.
The president’s party is also fighting history. The White House’s partisan allies have lost ground in the Senate in 12 of 17 midterm elections since the end of World War II.
“It’s too early to make a precise prediction, except to say that Democrats are nearly certain to lose Senate seats,” Sam Wang, who since 2004 has used mathematical formulas and polling data to predict elections for the Princeton Election Consortium, said in an e-mail.