Senate battle, now and then

Amain storyline in the 2012 congressional elections is the battle for control of the Senate. There is much riding on the result. 

One Senate win could prevent or bolster the dismantling of President Obama’s healthcare law. The majority party will control the Senate floor, as well as committee hearings. Both are effective tools against the president of an opposing party.

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But while the Senate results of November do have huge implications, their ripple effect in 2014 has been underestimated.

This November, there are 23 Democrats defending their seats and only 10 Republicans. In 2014, Democrats face another difficult map, having to defend 20 to the GOP’s 13. The disparity is attributable to the successful years Democrats enjoyed in 2006 and 2008. 

The quickest way for either party to lose seats is for incumbent members from swing states to retire. There are at least a couple Democrats up in 2014 (Sens. Tom HarkinTom HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE of Iowa and Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE of W.Va.) who have indicated, through words and/or actions, that this term could be their last.

Should Democrats retain their majority come November, it will be harder for on-the-fence Democratic senators to retire during the next Congress. But if Republicans capture control of the upper chamber, that decision might be a lot easier, because the road back to the majority would look long and arduous.

In 2004, one of the key reasons for GOP gains in the Senate was because that handful of Democrats from red-leaning states retired. Two years later, Senate Democratic leaders successfully leaned on their colleagues to run for reelection and took advantage of a major shift in the political winds to make Sen. Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) majority leader.

Most of the Democrats up in 2014 are expected to run again, or have already announced they will, including Sens. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBernie Sanders flexes power on single-payer ObamaCare architect supports single-payer system Trump has yet to travel west as president MORE (Mont.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (Minn.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump: Why isn't Senate looking into 'Fake News Networks'? 5 takeaways from Senate Russian meddling presser Trump: 'America is truly a nation in mourning' MORE (Va.) and Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.).

The GOP’s presumed top targets that year will include Sens. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuYou want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' MORE (La.) and Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.). 

Republicans who are in cycle in 2014 include Sens. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynGun proposal picks up GOP support House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (Texas), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGun proposal picks up GOP support Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns Agricultural trade demands investment in MAP and FMD MORE (Maine) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (S.C.). All four are good bets to get reelected. 

History shows that the winner of the 2014 election will likely be the loser this fall. If Obama wins a second term, it is highly likely his party will suffer losses in the midterm. Likewise, should Mitt Romney triumph, Democrats would probably pick up House seats and hold their own in the Senate.