At the start of the 2020 election cycle — way back in December 2018 — the conventional wisdom was that while Democrats might be able to retake the Senate majority, it was a long shot.
It’s a very long way from that assumption to this headline from the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan campaign handicapping site, late last month: “Almost 100 Days Out, Democrats Are Favored to Take Back the Senate.”
Wrote Cook Senate editor Jessica Taylor (bolding is mine):
“Ultimately, every day that Trump stubbornly refuses to change course [on the coronavirus pandemic] is another day that it becomes increasingly likely he may not only tank his own re-election bid but could be on a kamikaze mission to take the Republican-held Senate down with him. At this point, a net gain of five to seven seats for Democrats looks far more probable than the one to three seat gain that would leave them shy of a majority.”
That is a very big deal.
Cook currently puts Arizona Sen. Martha McSally (R) as a clear underdog to win in November while ratings GOP-held seats in Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Montana and North Carolina as pure toss-ups.
By contrast, Cook sees only one Democratic seat in real jeopardy: Alabama — where Sen. Doug Jones (D) is an underdog against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville (R).
(Those ratings largely gibe with how Inside Elections, another campaign tipsheet, sees the Senate playing field.)
It’s very hard to overestimate how much of a sea change it would be for Democrats to not only capture the White House, but the Senate in November. If that came to pass, Democrats would have full control of the executive and legislative branches for the first time since 2009-2011, in the first term of President Barack Obama.
And as President Donald Trump and current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) have shown with their bevy of confirmed federal judges — including two Supreme Court seats — controlling the White House and the Senate allows the party in charge to make potentially generational changes.
If this nightmare scenario for Republicans comes to pass, it is likely to stoke the already bubbling conversation about what a post-Trump GOP could and should look like. Unfortunately for Republicans, that conversation could well take place as their party is effectively sidelined in terms of power in Washington.
The Point: Losing either the White House or the Senate majority would be terrible for Republicans. Losing both could be potentially catastrophic.