Getting to 60 seats is always a struggle, but the Republicans’ huge 2010 Senate class — like the Democrats’ big classes of 2006 and 1958 — automatically put the goal of a filibuster-proof supermajority on the table.
So the Democrats’ strong showing earlier this month not only denied Republicans the Senate majority they sought in 2013 and obliterated any chance that Republicans could win a supermajority in the Senate anytime soon, it now gives Democrats a class of 25 senators and the opportunity to make a run at 60 seats in 2016.
The best news for Republicans is that Democrats have 20 Senate seats up next time, while the GOP has only 13 at risk. That should make for plenty of Republican opportunities — especially since Democrats will be defending seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota and Alaska.
But Republicans had great opportunities going in 2012 and lost two seats. And, of course, Republicans have proved their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Senate races.
Given their large class this year, Democrats need only hold their own in 2014 and then win just 15 of 34 Senate seats two years later o reach their 60-seat goal. Even if they experience modest losses in 2014, which seems likely given the seats up and the challenges faced by a president’s party in second midterms, they could still be within range of 60 seats in the 2016 elections.
Democrats will then have an opportunity to win back Senate seats that they lost because of the 2010 anti-Obama GOP wave. Their 2016 targets surely will include Republican Senate seats in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as seats in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and even North Carolina. All of those states, except for North Carolina, went for Barack Obama twice.