Will the Republicans take back control of the Senate, and if so, what will that mean for Washington for the next two years? There are 36 Senate seats in play today. Republicans need a gain of six seats to capture the majority. According to Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight, the GOP has a 76% chance of regaining control of the Senate. The likelihood of this occurring has increased over the last week, according to Silver’s polling analysis. (It should be noted that Mr. Silver has been called the “rockstar of pollsters” for his ability to accurately predict both presidential and congressional races.) According to recent polling, the Republicans are likely to win Democratic-held Senate seats in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. The closest battles, according to recent polling, appear to be in Iowa, Colorado, Alaska and Georgia, where Republicans hold a slight edge in polling in all four states. These uncertainties mean there is a strong possibility that neither party will be able to claim a Senate majority by the morning after Election Day. After the “Citizens United‘ decision, there is no limit on how much money can be spent for an individual or campaign. Hundreds of millions has been spent in advertising, with at least two states topping the $100 million mark.
So, presuming the pollsters are correct and the GOP takes control of both houses of Congress, what does that mean for Washington for the next two years? It appears unlikely that the Republicans will hold enough seats to end a filibuster or overcome a presidential veto, which means they will have to work with the Democrats to pass any meaningful legislation. This is unlikely, and the government could likely be headed for another shutdown during a budget fight. According to Sen. Mitch McConnell, who could end up being the Majority Leader in the Senate, the Republicans already have a plan of attack in place. Sen. McConnell says the Republicans will, “…attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress. In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency…” With the Tea Party in a struggle with moderate Republicans for control of the GOP, it is unclear where Sen. McConnell’s “center” would be located. In short, Republican control of both houses of Congress (with a slim margin in the Senate) would likely create gridlock, if not outright stagnation, in Washington, and less will be accomplished in the next two years than it was in the last two years.