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« HealthCare.Gov Mistakes Go Unfixed | Main | Podcast/Open Thread »
February 03, 2014

Senate Outlook And Immigration

When he's not slumming here with astronomy posts CAC does election predictions over at The Federalist.

His latest breakdown of this year's Senate races are now up.

Right now, the Republicans are projected a net gain of seven seats, enough for a 52-48 majority in the Senate if ]Alaska Senate Democrat Mark] Begich manages to hold on.


What are some races to watch in the month ahead? Oregon could become interesting, particularly the possible contrast of a pediatric neurosurgeon (Dr. Monica Wehby) running against Senator Jeff Merkley. The state’s exchange is a complete disaster, and Dr. Wehby, focused almost entirely on the health care law, raised an impressive $500k in the last quarter. Since we have no polling data for this match up, we’re going to leave this race as moderate-Democrat. Lastly, Georgia is still a Republican-favored race worth watching. We haven’t had any non-partisan sponsored polling in a while, but the Democrat, Michelle Nunn, has been fund-raising well and picked up endorsements from several former Republican Senators. The state’s electorate makes getting to the mid-40s easy, but winning is another matter. Still, the Republican field is wide open, and if it turns bitter, a damaged candidate could give her a further boost.

One of the wildcards in this or any scenario is amnesty.

So why with the chance to take control of the Senate and increase their margin in the House are Republicans flirting with the idea of a divisive intra-party fight that takes focus away from ObamaCare? Sean Trende has a few thoughts (with an assist from our own AmishDude".

5) Republicans are afraid of winning.

In the course of my musings on Twitter, AmishDude suggested that the real motive here is that the GOP leadership is actually concerned about the implications of a landslide. Of all the suggestions put out there, this seems to make the most sense, and synthesizes the above theories reasonably well while addressing most of my pushbacks on them.

The idea is twofold. First, a landslide would present as much of a problem as it does an opportunity for those who might want to revisit the issue in 2015, especially if the GOP establishment (or its donors) believes this is a must-do before the 2016 elections. The base would be even more agitated after a big victory, and appalled at any compromise on this issue if the GOP picks it up in 2015. In addition, absent a majority, Democrats wouldn’t have the same incentive to support a bill that contained further compromises, especially since they already view the bill as a compromise in the first place. They’d be better off watching Republicans flail and fail to pass a bill as their own base abandons them; this is roughly what happened in the mid-2000s.

This makes sense of the timing issue. Perhaps the GOP really did plan on letting the issue die last summer, when taking the Senate looked like a 50-50 shot, and breaking even in the House seemed like the order of the day. But then the Obamacare rollout hit, and suddenly Republicans looked like they might enjoy a 2010 redux.

If only the GOP were this clever and devious in dealing with Democrats as they are conservatives.

The problem with all this talk that amnesty is a question of timing, that it will be more acceptable next year than it is now, misses two big things.

First, amnesty is unacceptable as a matter of policy and principle. Timing is irrelevant.

Second, imagine the GOP holds it together long enough to win big by focusing on ObamaCare and punting on immigration. Are they really then going to pivot away from ObamaCare and onto amnesty?

Sadly all we're really debating is when the GOP will do something incredibly stupid and not if they will.

Remember all of this the next time someone from Team GOP says conservatives are helping Democrats. If the GOP would stop doing dumb things, we'd be happy to fight the Democrats but we're not there yet.

Added: Right on cue.

Yes, the danger to distracting from the GOP's ObamaCare message is a handful of people on Twitter, not the GOP's congressional leadership's focus on amnesty.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:03 PM

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