It wasn’t very long ago that pollsters and pundits were speculating that the Democrats would be increasing their advantage in the Senate. But not anymore. Politico reports:
The GOP is flexing its muscles in Democratic-leaning states like Delaware, Connecticut and Illinois. Recruiting coups by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas are one big reason Republicans feel a new sense of confidence. Democrats, meanwhile, are taking on an increasingly defensive crouch as the party in power, which must defend President Barack Obama’s ambitious — and expensive — agenda.
Nevada, Colorado, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Illinois now look like GOP potential pickups, and New Hampshire (with the recruitment of Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general) looks more secure. Blanche Lincoln may be in trouble in Arkansas as well. Notice the geographic range of these seats. Republicans competitive in Illinois and Pennsylvania? New England too? It seems like just yesterday that political mavens and conservative pundits were speculating that the GOP was becoming a “regional” party.
Well, that was before Obama and Harry Reid went on a spending jag and before independents got queasy. That was when unemployment was in single digits. And that was when, frankly, an “R” was the kiss of death on the ballot, conjuring up images of the Lehman Brothers collapse and the final gasp of the Bush administration. Time (since the Bush era) and experience (living with the Democrats’ monopoly on power) have reshaped the political landscape.
And contrary to the advice of many conservative pundits, the Republicans didn’t need to jettison social conservatives or redefine themselves. With an assist from Obama, they simply needed to re-establish the stark differences between the parties on core issues — spending, taxes, regulation, and national security. And so long as Obama and the Democrats run Left, Republican views, it turns out, have a substantial and growing center-right audience that is receptive to their much derided “no” message. And that appeal is nationwide, reflected in the diverse states in which Republican Senate candidates are now viable. A year is forever in politics — and that is true going forward as well. Much can change, but Senate Republicans, if this keeps up, may well have re-enforcements in a year.