Republican leaders must be starting to sweat. True, they are the favorites to win many key races today. But here’s the thing: All the Democrats have to do is NOT lose more than five US Senate seats and the media will cast the Republicans as the BIG losers of this election.
And I’m not just talking the liberal media. Just a few days ago conservative writer and Fox news regular Charles Krauthammer told us that if the Republicans can't win the Senate this year, "maybe the Party ought to look for another country."
Consequently, anything but securing control of the Senate will be deemed a failure by both the left and the right. And lets be honest: The GOP couldn’t have asked for a better political climate than this year. 2014 is like perfect political storm for the GOP to the point where GOP Senate minority Mitch McConnell should be sizing up Harry Reid’s office to decide how he wants to decorate it.
Obama’s approval ratings are at historic lows. The economy is sputtering. Obamacare is still generally unpopular. The Democrats have to defend 21 seats to the GOP’s 15, many in States that Mitt Romney won in 2012. And Republicans have a fundraising edge with almost $2 billion raised.
But here’s the thing: The polls are still very close in key battleground states that the Republicans thought they would likely win such as in Georgia, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina. In fact, I was in North Carolina last week, and as I mentioned in my article for The Daily Beast yesterday, early voting numbers and polling there indicates that the Democratic Senator Kay Hagan will likely win. If that happens, the GOP’s dreams of controlling the Senate will have become that much tougher.
If Republicans pick up 5 seats this year– one less than they need to control the Senate – can’t they pick up the other seat in 2016 you ask? Nope. In 2016 the Republicans will be defending 22 Senate seats to the Democrats nine.
Odds are that in 2016 the GOP will lose, not gain Senate seats given those numbers. And making it even more challenging is that many of the Republican Senators up in 2016 are in traditionally Blue States such as Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Illinois’ Mark Kirk. So after this election, the next real shot the GOP of taking the Senate is 2018, at best.
So if the GOP doesn’t prevail in its race for the Senate what happens next? Finger pointing central! You can likely say goodbye to Reince Priebus as RNC Chair.
Plus you will see some really pissed off Republican Senators. Ted Cruz for starters who stands to become a subcommittee chair if GOP takes control of the Senate. Plus Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have a shot at full committee chairs. This will provide all three with greater media coverage and in turn helps them raise funds for their expected run for president come 2016. Failing to pick up the Senate deprives them of this benefit. (Conversely it would likely be a boost to Republican Governors like Chris Christie seeking the presidential nomination angering these Senators even more.)
There you have it. While the Democrats might look like they are like George Clooney in the movie The Perfect Storm watching a huge wave about to crash into his ship, all the Democrats have to do is avoid drowning and they will have won. And for that reason alone, I would predict that Republican leaders might be sweating a little more right now than they want us to know.
Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast. He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" You can follow Dean on Twitter
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The people of South Carolina have spoken: They want Stephen Colbert as their next US Senator. And yes, that Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central. And no, I’m not joking.
A new poll released Monday found that South Carolina voters favor Stephen Colbert to fill the soon to be vacated US Senate seat of Jim DeMint. Colbert came in first chosen by 20% of those polled followed by South Carolina Representatives Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy.
And Colbert apparently has some interest in the Senate seat as he announced in typical Colbert fashion on his show “The Colbert Report” this week: “My network contract prohibits me from taking on another full-time job. So, the Senate would be perfect.”
All joking aside, Stephen Colbert would likely be a great US Senator. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley seriously should not rule out appointing Colbert to fill DeMint’s seat simply because he’s a comedian.
Lets not forget that Al Franken was elected to the US Senate in 2009 after his years of being a comedy writer and cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” So how has Franken fared in his time in the US Senate? A recent poll shows that 52% of people in Franken’s home State of Minnesota approve of his work. Contrast that with generic approval polls of Congress which show that the institution is slightly more popular than syphilis.
And sure, Colbert has made some seemingly outlandish comments. But for the most part his quips are lined with political insight. We learn about the issue while laughing. Why does politics have to be so painfully boring when a little humor can make it more accessible and understandable to all?
Here are just a few of Colbert’s past comments that are both funny and poignant:
-"Contraception leads to more babies being born out of wedlock, the exact same way that fire extinguishers cause fires.”
-"If we raise taxes on corporations, what incentive will they have to make money other than the fact that it's the sole reason they exist."
-"I've long been against illegal aliens, partly because they distract us from an even bigger threat: real aliens."
And one of his best: "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."
Now contrast Colbert’s above statements with ones made by earlier this year by non-comedian, “professional” politicians who were the Republican Party’s actual nominees for US Senate. Congressman Todd Akin, the GOP’s Senate candidate in Missouri, offered these views on “legitimate rape” of women during this year’s campaign: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
And then came Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdoch’s comments in October: "…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen."
If these aren’t enough to make you appreciate a Senator Colbert, then just check out some of the comments made by current South Carolina Senator DeMint. His statements often sound as outrageous as Colbert’s but they are far worse-DeMint is being serious.
Here are just a few of DeMint’s “gems”: “If a person wants to be publicly gay, they should not be teaching in the public schools.” DeMint, a national leader of The Tea Party movement, also publicly opposed allowing unwed pregnant women from teaching in public schools.
And recently DeMint called the Obama administration the most “anti-American administration in my lifetime,” and warned that he doesn’t believe America can survive as a nation if Obama won a second term.
All of a sudden Colbert’s comments are the sane, responsible ones. Indeed, Colbert’s moderate views on many issues and his preaching for sanity in Washington, D.C. are exactly what this nation needs.
Plus, on the fun side, there’s a chance that if Colbert was appointed to the Senate he would bring some of his trademark segments with him. People would finally watch C-Span coverage of the Senate just to see if Colbert began his speeches on the Senate floor with the sounds of a screeching eagle. Or to see Colbert do his, "tip of the hat, wag of the finger" segment to the face of the Senator he was calling out.
The biggest drawback for Colbert becoming a Senator is that it’s actually a step down. And I’m not kidding. Sure, as a Senator he can vote on legislation but as the host of a TV show he has the ability to reach a national audience on a nightly basis. Most Senators can only dream of being as well known or influential on public opinion as Colbert.
America sorely needs a Senator who is not afraid to speak the truth – or at least gives us the “truthiness.” And who is better at that then a comedian? In the words of Colbert: “Sometimes it takes a crazy person to see the truth. If so, I'm a freaking lunatic.”