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 HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE of Iowa and Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner 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 ReidReid: Congress should return 'immediately' to fight Zika Classified briefings to begin for Clinton, Trump The Trail 2016: Her big night 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 BaucusGlover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft Wyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny MORE (Mont.), Al FrankenAl FrankenWinners and losers of the Dem convention Party unity overcomes chaos...and the Bernie-or-Bust crowd The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Minn.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Democratic National Convention event calendar Liberal group: Kaine could be 'disastrous' VP pick MORE (Va.) and Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonFormer GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads MORE (S.D.).

The GOP’s presumed top targets that year will include Sens. Mark BegichMark BegichSenate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (Alaska), Kay HaganKay HaganDemocratic National Convention event calendar 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' MORE (N.C.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuBrazile’s new role? Clean up DNC mess oil is changing the world and Washington Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (La.) and Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (Ark.). 

Republicans who are in cycle in 2014 include Sens. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPeter Thiel does not make the GOP pro-gay Reid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' McAuliffe: Clinton won't move TPP without changes MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynFlorida: 'High likelihood' of first Zika transmission in the US GOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Hopes dim for mental health deal MORE (Texas), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense The Trail 2016: Words matter Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early MORE (Maine) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump: 'I hope' Russia is able to get Clinton's emails Syria activists cheer Kaine pick Vulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine 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.