A GOP Senate Supermajority in 2014 Opens Up Possibilities, Peril

COMMENTARY | Could the Republicans get a 60 seat super majority in the Senate in 2014? Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg thinks it is theoretically possible, considering that the Democrats must defend 23 Senate seats in 2012 and 20 more seats in 2014.

Things depend partly on who is president in 2014. If Barack Obama is reelected, then the famous “six year itch” comes into play, when the party in power traditionally lose heavily in congressional races. This happened in 2006 to Republicans during the second term of George W. Bush.

If a Republican is president in 2014, things get a little murkier. Very often the party in power loses the first midterm as well, as Reagan did in 1982 and Clinton did in 1994. However, Republicans actually picked up seats in 2002, midway through George W. Bush’s first term. It all depends on things like the economy and how the sitting president is perceived as doing about it.

Let us say that Rothenberg is right and the Republicans start 2015 with a large majority in the House and a super majority in the Senate. That does not necessarily mean that there will be a conservative super majority in the Senate. A handful of moderates, including both senators from Maine and, if he wins next year, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, will hold the balance of power.

So the Republicans are not going to run too wild in 2015 and 2016 if this scenario of a super majority comes true. But a lot of things have a potential to get passed by the time 2016 rolls around and yet another presidential election occurs.

A flat tax? Real entitlement reform? The abolition of cabinet departments like Education or Housing and Urban Development? A lot of things become theoretically possible with a GOP super majority and a Republican president.

Of course, such legislation has to be crafted carefully and the RINO Republicans like Olympia Snowe have to be cultivated and wooed. The nightmare scenario for Republicans is to have something like privatizing Social Security sail through the House, but then stall out in the Senate for the lack of one or two recalcitrant RINOs. Then one of two things happen.

The measure fails, to angry recriminations and finger pointing.

Or

The measure succeeds, but only because of some of the unseemly horse trading such as took place during the debate over health care reform. In that instance, whatever gets passed becomes forever tainted with the whiff of corruption and double dealing politics.

Source: The Uneven Senate Landscape of 2012 (and 2014), Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Coll, April 14, 2011