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The possibility that Democrats could win the Senate in 2018 seemed preposterous a year ago, given President Trump’s stunning victory and the basic math facing a party defending three times as many seats as Republicans in November’s midterm elections.

Not anymore. The debate has grown over Democrats’ chances of capturing control of the agenda and holding power over Trump’s nominations, including potential vacancies on the Supreme Court.

The dispute pits the practitioners of big data against those who also scout candidates and measure broader political atmosphere to make their bets.

Both sides agree Democrats face a narrow path to gain two seats needed to reclaim the majority — but there is a debate over just how narrow.

Even after Sen. Doug Jones (D) won his improbable Alabama special election last month, Democrats still face an imposing task: They are defending 26 seats of their own to just eight Republican seats up for grabs

“Just how bad is this map for Democrats? It’s bad enough that it may be the worst Senate map that any party has faced ever,” Nate Silver, founder of Five Thirty Eight, the data analytics blog covering sports and politics, wrote Wednesday.

But some veterans suggest that the broader national environment is beginning to break so sharply against Trump and Republicans that the Senate could very much be in play.

“A key question for November is which will be dominant: the environment or geography. Put another way, in both the House and Senate, it’s the wave versus the map,” Charlie Cook, the founder of the Cook Political Report, retorted a day later.

Analysis | ‘The wave versus the map’: Democratic control of Senate moves from preposterous to possible

Democrats have a narrow path to the majority in the Senate. The debate is over just how narrow, and whether the forces working against the GOP and President Trump are setting the stage for a wave election.


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