With Republicans in a state of total collapse, a new analysis shows that Democrats are now favored to win back the Senate in 2016.
Stuart Rothenberg examined the shift in the battle for control of the Senate:
Up to this point, the burden of proof has been on Democrats to demonstrate that they can oust four or five Republican senators and win control of the chamber. But now, with Republicans in disarray and the party flirting with selecting a weak general election nominee, the benefit of the doubt has shifted away from the GOP and to the Democrats.
At least five incumbent GOP senators from Democratic-leaning or competitive states were facing difficult re-election races this year even under the most favorable circumstances – Mark Kirk of Illinois, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rob Portman of Ohio. A Republican open seat in Florida also looked at great risk.
Add in the deep division within the Republican Party, and the possibility of Trump or Cruz leading the national GOP ticket, and all – or at least almost all – of those races suddenly look much more uphill. In addition, states like North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri and Arizona look more interesting.
The two-pronged problem of the ugly Republican nomination fight and the decision by Senate Republicans to obstruct President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee has already done grave damage to the GOP’s odds of keeping control of the Senate. Polling within the last week has revealed that as many as eight Republican incumbent Senators are being damaged by the Supreme Court nominee obstruction. Four of the endangered eight incumbents reside in blue states. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) were already underdogs in 2016 who are facing an even more challenging path to reelection.
Polling also reveals that Donald Trump will drive a sizable percentage of Republican voters to vote for Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump both have approval ratings in the 30s. Both Cruz and Trump will narrow the Republican electorate by alienating moderates and Independents. The combination of Senate Republicans obstructing Obama’s SCOTUS nominee and an extremist with a limited appeal at the top of the GOP ticket looks like it will lead to Democrats, not only keeping the White House but also taking back the Senate in 2016.