Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Mitch McConnell, the Senator with the Catbird Grin

 

After the election, we all whooped and hollered that the Republicans had picked up more than 60 seats in the House, giving the GOP a majority of more than 50 in that chamber, but we all felt a little blue–admit it!–that the GOP had gained only six seats in the Senate, leaving the Republicans outnumbered in the upper house by 54 to 46.

Over the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve noticed that Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has sounded a lot chirpier–and, frankly, a lot more aggressive–than a man ought to sound when he’s just drawn a bad hand. Why? Well, after looking over a few statistics, I think I know. Sen. McConnell doesn’t believe he’s drawn a bad hand at all. Just take a look a this:

Twenty-three Democratic senators must face re-election in two years (actually, 21 Democrats plus Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both Independents who caucus with the Democrats).

  • Of those 23, five represent states that John McCain carried in 2008 and George W. Bush carried in 2004. To wit: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia (although just elected this year, Manchin is merely filling out the unexpired term of the late Sen. Byrd).
  • Four more Democratic senators facing re-election come from states that McCain lost in 2008–but that Bush carried four years earlier. Namely: Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Jim Webb of Virginia.

Which means?

Which means that although he’ll have only 46 votes in the new Congress to call his own, Mitch McConnell will find that no fewer than nine Democrats are willing–perhaps even eager–to work with him.

Keep grinning, Sen. McConnell. It’ll keep Sen. Reid off balance–and delight everybody here at Ricochet.

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  1. Will Collier Member
    Will CollierJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I had a column on this very topic over at PJM the day after the election. My bottom-line numbers turned out to be off when Colorado and Washington both stayed “D,” but the fundamental point–that McConnell may well have access to a working conservative (or at least scared-of-defeat) majority on some issues–remains.

    • #1
    • November 23, 2010, at 2:04 AM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Peter Robinson Founder
    Peter Robinson
    Will Collier: I had a column on this very topic over at PJM the day after the election. · Nov 22 at 1:04pm

    Thanks for the link to your col, Will.

    EJ, what do you think? Maybe Sherrod Brown would refuse to break with the prez on, say, the START treaty, which Obama has (foolishly) now lavished his personal prestige. But after Rob Portman won election to the senate from Ohio with a margin of something like 20 percent, mightn’t even Sen. Brown agree to an extension of all the Bush tax cuts? When they’re preparing to face the voters, even lefties can get religion.

    • #2
    • November 23, 2010, at 2:14 AM PST
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  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Peter Robinson When they’re preparing to face the voters, even lefties can get religion.

    The difference between Portman’s 20 point win and Brown’s situation is big. One, Brown is going to be on the same ticket as Obama. How people feel about the president at that moment, two years from now, is going to be huge.

    Two, Brown is the incumbent and Portman was running for an open seat in an anti-elite year against a guy who was a retread runner that had been on the state-wide ballot seven times before.

    • #3
    • November 23, 2010, at 2:32 AM PST
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  4. Mel Foil Inactive

    …and in cases where Democrat Senators don’t plan to run again, might plan to lobby instead, they’ll want to stay on good terms with the future majority leader, not likely a Democrat. If you expect to be looking for work in the private sector, soon, then in most cases, a record of rigid partisanship is not going to help. Better you’re known as a mediator.

    • #4
    • November 23, 2010, at 12:35 PM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Peter Robinson Founder
    Peter Robinson
    etoiledunord: …and in cases where Democrat Senators don’t plan to run again, might plan to lobby instead, they’ll want to stay on good terms with the future majority leader, not likely a Democrat. · Nov 22 at 11:35am

    Hadn’t thought of that, but of course you’re right. My, but elections do matter, don’t they?

    • #5
    • November 23, 2010, at 12:39 PM PST
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  6. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Don’t count on Sherrod Brown. He is a committed lefty. And it also helps that his wife is a political columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (No conflict of interest there, eh?)

    If Governor-elect John Kasich meets with any success, turn your eyes to his running mate, Mary Taylor.

    • #6
    • November 23, 2010, at 12:48 PM PST
    • 1 like

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