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 RockefellerObama to preserve torture report in presidential papers Lobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on 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 ReidSenate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch After healthcare fail, 4 ways to revise conservative playbook 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 BaucusGOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination MORE (Mont.), Al FrankenAl FrankenWe need congressional debate on Yemen The case against Gorsuch: It’s all about precedent The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (Minn.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerTop Senate Intel Dem: Nunes's meeting on WH grounds 'more than suspicious' Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Devin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress 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 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 LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist 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 McConnellMitch McConnellSenate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral GOP senator on going nuclear: 'I really hope that it doesn't come to that' The real reason why ObamaCare repeal failed MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynNo. 2 Senate Democrat opposes Trump's Supreme Court pick Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch House GOP insists: We’re not giving up on ObamaCare repeal MORE (Texas), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral GOP senator on going nuclear: 'I really hope that it doesn't come to that' Senators offer tax bill aimed at helping small businesses MORE (Maine) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Graham: Nunes should reveal surveillance source Can Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? 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.