At the end of a fairly predictable those-crazy-tea-partiers-are-costing-Republicans-Senate-seats op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Fox News contributor Juan Williams makes a bold prediction:
The fight for the future of Republicans in the Senate rests on whether ideologues or establishment politicians win control of the party. Right now, the ideologues are winning. At this rate, President Obama will have a 60-member super majority in the Senate for his last two years in the White House.
The Democrats will begin the 113th Congress with 53 Democratic senators and two Democrat-aligned independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. So they would have to win five additional seats in 2014 to make Williams’s prediction come true.
Two years from now, 20 Democratic senators will face their electorates (or retire and see open-seat races) and 13 Republican senators will do the same.
Among the Democrat incumbents who may retire: Senators Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Dick Durbin of Illinois. Several Democrats who narrowly won in 2008 will face their electorates again, this time in the significantly lower-turnout environment of a midterm election: Al Franken in Minnesota, Mark Begich in Alaska, and Jeff Merkley in Oregon.
On the flip side, any Republicans who were elected or reelected to the Senate during the Obama win of 2008 will be tough to dislodge. Of the 13 Republicans who won Senate bids that year, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had the smallest share of the vote, with 53 percent of the vote in Kentucky. The second-smallest was John Cornyn with 55 percent in Texas.
Obviously, the Senate elections of 2014 are a long ways away. But file Juan Williams’s piece away for future reference.