Earlier this week, Matt posted Rothenberg's projections for the 2014 elections. You can see them here.
Matt Rothenberg concluded:
At this early stage, GOP gains seem to be inevitable, but the size is still in doubt.
I'm not so sure, but let's play.
Currently, the Democrats hold 55 seats. What are we defending? Rothenberg says that there are currently 12 safe Democratic seats. He's right about that. The three open seats are due to retirements in Michigan and New Jersey and the special in Massachusetts. In Michigan, Carl Levin is retiring due to age, he's 78. The likely replacement is Jennifer Granholm, who will easily hold. In New Jersey, Frank Lautenberg is 89, and is surprisingly not retiring due to age, but rather to make room for Cory Booker, Superhero, who will also easily hold. In Massachusetts, Mo Cowan is placeholder in John Kerry's seat, and all indications are that Ed Markey will win this year's special, and will hold the seat next year. To win, he's got to win the primary, as the Republicans weren't able to actually find a viable candidate for the general. For next year, it's equally unlikely they'll find someone as Scott Brown took an actual lawyer job and he'll be wont to give up that kind of money.
Rothenberg has Jeanne Shaheen favoured in New Hampshire, which we call likely, and I believe he's understating her abilities. We hold New Hampshire.
Rothenberg then has 4 Democratic leans in Alaska, Iowa, Montana and North Carolina, two what he calls "toss-up/tilt Democratic"s in Arkansas and Louisiana, and he calls South Dakota a pure toss-up. He believes we could also lose West Virginia as a "toss-up/tilt Republican".
How many of these seats could we really lose? West Virginia, for sure. We should accept that the ship has sailed and put our efforts elsewhere. The rest, I don't think we'll lose. There is a strong incumbent advantage, and while Iowa will be open, there's a good chance that Iowans, like everyone else, has seen what electing people like Ted Cruz can do, and won't want the kind of embarrassment.
What can we pick up? Potentially Kentucky, which I wrote about last week, as well as Georgia, so long as Max Cleland runs, as he should. When you look at the field of potential Republican primary candidates, debate season is going to be the equivalent of Christine O'Donnell debating Todd Akin. Cue the popcorn. We've seen this before: run a teabagger against a reasonably strong Democrat, and the teabagger goes down in flames. And Max Cleland deserves his seat back.
The rest of the seats Rothenberg has as some level of tilt to safe Republican hold. This means, by the way, that Susan Collins as the last moderate Republican in either chamber. Along with Kelly Ayotte, these are the last two Republican members from New England in either chamber.
So where does that leave my projections? Lose one, pick up two, meaning in January of 2015, we'll have 56 Democrats, plus Independents who caucus with us.