One might be able to excuse Democratic spin before the election returns came in. But former Newsweek reporter Andrew Romano offered a real beaut the morning after at Yahoo News, titled “How Hillary Clinton won the 2014 midterms.”
Many of the candidates that the Clintons backed in this cycle went down to defeat. While Romano isn’t denying 2014 was a good year for Republicans, he could not wait to start shaking the pom-poms for how Hillary’s path is greased for the White House. This is the article that liberals will want to read after they put their handkerchiefs down.
But here’s the thing: In politics, the easy answer isn’t always the only answer, and the winner of an election isn’t always the one who benefits most. Take a closer look at demography, geography and the road ahead for the parties, and it’s clear that the long-term winner of the 2014 midterms wasn’t the GOP at all. The long-term winner, in fact, wasn’t even on the ballot this year.
Her name is Hillary Clinton.
Of course the GOP is celebrating right now, as it should. Any election that ends up putting Republicans into the governors’ mansions in Illinois and Maryland is worth getting worked up about. But under the surface, almost everything about last night’s midterm results — and the map, the math and the legislative morass that lies ahead in the run-up to 2016 — suggests that the former first lady and secretary of state will have a better next two years than the party currently guzzling champagne.
Which is not to say that Clinton herself will necessarily be an unbeatable candidate. She spent the past two months holding 45 campaign events in 18 hard-fought states, but almost all the big candidates she stumped for lost, from Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky to Bruce Braley in Iowa. Many will say her campaign skills are still rusty — and she certainly won’t be heading into 2016 with many chits to cash in. But that doesn’t change one simple fact: Even a huge GOP victory shows how much catching up the Republican have to do if they want to defeat Hillary in 2016....
In other words, for every Senate seat that Republicans flipped in 2014, there’s one — or more — that’s likely to flip back to the Democrats in 2016. The chances that the GOP will still control the upper chamber of Congress after 2016 are slim.
How does this help Clinton? By giving her an added boost on an electoral playing field that already favors a Democratic presidential nominee. In the last six elections, 18 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have voted for the Democratic candidate every single time.
This means that Clinton, assuming she’s the nominee, will start out with 242 electoral votes in 2016; she’ll need only 28 of the remaining 183 tossups to win the election. To defeat her, the Republican candidate will basically have to run the table in the purple states — “not a game plan with a high probability of success,” according to Republican pollsters Glen Bolger and Neil Newhouse. Making matters worse is the fact that Republican senators will already be playing defense in several of these states, attracting additional Democratic attention and resources that will ultimately bolster the candidate at the top of the ticket as well.
While it's true that the Senate races look like the mirror image of the Republican advantage this year, only a Democratic pom-pom shaker could fail to wonder that if the Republicans could win governor's races in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois, that might offer hope for Republicans in blue states for 2016. Merely imagining a complete reversal of fortune betrays liberal wishful thinking when they've hit rock bottom.
[HT: Dan Gainor]