Democratic donors turn eyes to the Senate

Just hours after DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) conceded that Democrats aren’t likely to win control of the House of Representatives this fall, Politico ran a story noting that many high-dollar donors are shifting their focus to the Senate races in which vulnerable Democrats are running:

With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency. 
Some Democratic operatives think a big chunk of that money should be going to Senate contests instead — and they’re beginning to make that case to wealthy contributors. One senior Democratic strategist who is involved in a number of Senate races said conversations with many of the party’s biggest donors about shifting their giving away from the House and toward the Senate had begun and that, “it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the results.”

“After the health care rollout and with the start of the new year, Democratic donors are starting to focus on a critical choice they have to make: Donate money to pick up a small handful of House races or defend the Senate majority at all costs so that the president can get something — anything — done,” the strategist said.

As noted yesterday, Democrats chances of taking the House are very low. It would take an epic meltdown by Republicans for that to happen. They could gain some seats, but if the mid-terms are indeed tilting toward the GOP, that may even be a difficult task to accomplish.

The Senate, however, is another story. John Fund summed up the hurdles facing Democrats mid-week, noting that history isn’t on their side in 2014 given how unpopular President Obama is in states his party has to defend.

Republicans, who need a net-seats to take control of the chamber, will likely win at least three open seats currently held by Democrats — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Michigan, another open seat held by Democrats, is also up for grabs, with recent polls showing the Republican candidate with a slim margin.

That leaves four other seats in which Senate Democrats are running for reelection — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Each of these four states went for Mitt Romney in 2012, three by very comfortable margins. That’s not something that the GOP can take to the bank, but it’s a plus. That’s why so many incumbent Democrats are leery about campaigning with President Obama.

This means that incumbents and outside groups supporting them will have to mostly reject President Obama’s agenda, which they they’re trying to save by maintaining control of the seats. Makes sense, right?

Republicans, on the other hand, will have to defend Kentucky and Georgia. Odds are the latter will stay in their control. Kentucky could prove to be very difficult, however. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in a statistical tie with his presumed Democratic opponent and his approval rating is far under-water.

Democrats are, basically, admitting what most pundits already knew, and really only questioned during the government shutdown in October. The House is not in play. It’s the Senate that’s up for grabs, and there is little margin for error for Democrats.

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