Mitt Romney waves at a campaign stop in Ohio in 2012. (Block News Alliance)
By James M. Perry
Political pundits seem to be flocking to the conclusion that Republicans will capture the Senate and make gains in the House on Nov. 4.
Given the political climate (heated and sometimes hysterical), they probably should win, even though they have done nothing to deserve such a result. First of all, Democrats running for Congress, House and Senate, are faced with the uncomfortable fact that Americans have lost confidence in President Obama, and millions of them now despise him. That means that a vote for a Republican, unappetizing as the candidate may be, is a vote against Mr. Obama. Second, of the 36 Senate seats being contested, 21 are held by Democrats and only 15 by Republicans.
Republicans need to pick up six seats to take control of the Senate. If that happens, they will control both the House and Senate and will continue to have the benign support of a majority on the Supreme Court.
But that's the bad news for Democrats. The good news is that the Republicans are almost certain to make an unholy mess of Mr. Obama's final two years, alienating millions, and leading up to a landmark election in 2016. Mr. Obama will be gone and the Democratic standard-bearer will be Hillary Rodham Clinton, vying to be the nation's first female president. The latest Washginton Post-ABC News poll said she is supported by 65 percent of the Democrats.
The Democrats in 2016 will have a ready-made candidate for President and fewer seats to defend in the Senate, all of it being played out against two years of utter chaos brought on by Republicans in Congress (Benghazi! Obamacare! Ebola!) seeking desperately to take the nation back to the Calvin Coolidge era.
The GOP's biggest problem is they don't have a viable candidate for President anywhere in sight.
In the same poll that put Ms. Clinton ahead among Democrats, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2016 is -- ready? -- Mitt Romney, favored by 21 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Second place, with 11 per cent, went to Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida (1999-2007). The rest of the field barely registers. Bunched together between 8 and 6 percent are Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Ben Carson, a conservative neurosurgeon, and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.
Mr. Romney's wife, Ann, says her husband is "done, done, done" with Presidential politics, and a somewhat lethargic Jeb Bush acts as if he believes two Bushes in the White House was enough.
So, even if the Republicans win the Senate on Nov. 4, there's always 2016. Wait until the year after next might work as their slogan.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.