ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" March - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" March 30, 2014

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis


(Providence, Rhode Island)  -- Political sage and noted statistician Nate Silver is now predicting that Republicans will take over the U.S. Senate this year, but just barely. It has been awhile since we discussed where the Senate stands, so let's chew on that for "Brunch" this week: 

"The Math" – Republicans needs a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate. While they are leading in some open states - and are threatening some Democratic incumbents - Republicans need to be careful because some of their own members are vulnerable to defeat, including Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). In the latest Survey USA Poll, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes leads McConnell, 46 percent to 42 percent. It would be odd, but the GOP could take control of the Senate, but lose its leader in the process. Ironic! 

"Carolina in the Pines" – One of the most interesting races to watch is in North Carolina. Six years ago, Democrat Kay Hagan unseated Republican Senator and two-time cabinet member Elizabeth Dole, a political legend. Dole's campaign ran an ill-fated political ad questioning the religiosity of Hagan (who was a Sunday school teacher). It backfired big-time. But Hagan's first term has been unremarkable and she is vulnerable. The latest Public Policy Poll has Hagan in a virtual tie with every potential Republican opponent. The state is "must win" if the GOP wants the Senate back. 

"It's a ‘Gimmie'" – The Republican's easiest pick-up is likely to be in the State of Montana where the long-time Democratic incumbent Max Baucus left to become Ambassador to China. Republican Rep. Steve Daines leads Democrat Lt. Gov. John Walsh by 14 percentage points in the latest poll from Rasmussen Reports.

"Pryor Record" – By all rights, Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) ought to be a shoo-in for reelection. He has a famous name in Arkansas, where his dad David Pryor also served as Senator and Governor. But Mark Pryor's unwavering support for President Obama's Affordable Care Act, has left him vulnerable. Most polls have Pryor tied with Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), in a state that Republicans have carried in every Presidential election since 2000. Bill Clinton's home state turns more to the right every year. 

"Georgia on My Mind" – As mentioned earlier, Republicans cannot get too cocky or overconfident about their chances of taking control of the Senate. Nate Silver only has them winning by one seat right now and admits a surge by Democrats could keep them in charge. The real race to watch is in Georgia, where several Republicans are vying to succeed retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss, including a sitting Congressman and a former Governor. The Democratic opponent will be Michelle Nunn, daughter of legendary U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. She even spent time working for the Bush family's foundation, so she can make bipartisan claims in a state where it could make a difference. 

"The Wild Cards" – I've specifically addressed some of the key races, but there are several other states to watch that could turn the tide, including West Virginia, Michigan, Alaska and South Dakota. This is going to be a wacky year, so hang on tight! 

"The Stakes" – Control of the Senate might help end gridlock and divided government on a lot of issues, including long term budget matters and immigration reform. President Obama might work to sign compromises on both of those issues as part of his lasting legacy, as he becomes a lame duck. But even if the GOP takes control of both houses of Congress, not much will happen with Obamacare. That's because the President can veto any major overhauls to his signature piece of legislation, and Republicans won't have big enough Congressional majorities to override his vetoes.

Who is leading in your state? Let us know your picks by clicking the comment button at

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC. 

Photo courtesy: U.S. Senate





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