Recruitment — or a lack thereof — also has handed Republicans a bit of momentum.
In South Dakota, former representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, the son of the retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, have both passed up the chance to run for the Democratic nomination. While Republicans may face a primary between former governor Mike Rounds and freshman Rep. Kristi Noem, the winner will be considered a clear favorite over likely Democratic nominee Rick Weiland.
It’s the same in West Virginia, where a series of big-name Democrats have said no, leaving the party without a clear next step in terms of a candidate. Meanwhile, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito looks like the clear favorite to be the Republican nominee, although she will have to face a primary opponent from her ideological right.
Republicans have had their fair share of recruitment problems, too, most notably in Iowa, where the party has watched a cavalcade of candidates bow out as Democrats landed their first choice in Rep. Bruce Braley. In Nebraska, Gov. Dave Heineman’s decision not to run means a more wide-open Republican primary, but the state’s strong GOP tilt probably keeps the race from being all that competitive.