One of the questions in yesterday's Ask Me Anything (AMA) was what were my thoughts on the 2014 mid-term election. Because I'm sure the answer is of great import to many people, I'm reposting my answer here.
A quick note: I've only looked at one or two polls for 2014, haven't read any significant analysis from other people, and haven't done the job necessary to make this stick. So take it for what it is, just my view of how things might play out.
United States Senate
Kay Hagan (D-NC) should win reelection unless things change substantially.
Mark Begich (D-AK) has a decent shot at retaining his seat if Joe Miller is his general election opponent. Miller is the very model of a Tea Party conservative, which means he ended up being too conservative even for Alaska last time around. (He beat Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary only to lose to her in the general when she ran as a write-in.) Begich is a lock if the GOP nominee is Sarah Palin, and Palin is a lock if she runs in the GOP primary.
Again, I don't have numbers because I haven't looked. But I'm not sure the GOP can make it without taking out both Begich and Hagan.
Democrats are going to lose Senate seats in 2014 no matter what, though. Too many old guard Democrats in deep red states that have been surviving on incumbency benefits are retiring, or their state has gone off the deep end into extremist territory on the right side of the scale where Democrats simply can't win national office anymore.
On the flip side, 2014 will be the last election for a while where there are more Democrats than Republicans up for reelection in the Senate. Even if Dems lose the Senate next year, I think it's very likely that they'll get it right back on the coattails of Hillary Clinton. And if not 2016, then 2018.
House of Representatives
Republicans can't lose the House without a Dem wave, and 2014 won't be a wave just like 2012 wasn't. The country has been gerrymandered too much by the GOP. Districts have been rigged so much now that the House isn't really subject to the traditional notion of democratic elections. Democrats won the popular vote across all House races last year and yet didn't win a majority of seats, the first time that has happened in American history. It's projected to happen every single election from here on how -- because of gerrymandering.
White House, 2016
Chris Christie is the only Republican in the nation (on the RADAR) that can beat Hillary Clinton. There may be two people in the country that can beat Christ Christie, and Clinton is one of them.
Ted Cruz will declare candidacy and probably shut it down before the GOP primary. If not, he'll drop out within the first four or five contests without winning a single state. Either he or Rand Paul will win Ames. I doubt the RNC will let Cruz into the debates if he doesn't give up before then.
Rand Paul and Marco Rubio will run, as will Rick Santorum. Paul won't win but a couple of states and will probably drop out early. Santorum will perform poorly but stay in much longer than he should, like a 2016 version of Newt Gingrich.
Jeb Bush, Andrew Cuomo, Julián Castro, Sarah Palin, and Paul Ryan will not run. Some or all of them may tease it for attention, looking towards 2020. If a Republican wins in 2016, I think Cuomo runs in 2020.
I don't think Christie runs if Clinton declares first. If he declares first and Clinton runs, it'll be a real busy season for pollsters and analysts.
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Some quick notes:
1. Democrats have gerrymandered in the past, but it's a false equivalency to leave it at that. The GOP has been more aggressive and more successful over the past four years than anyone at any time in history. It's unprecedented. In the past, winning the popular vote of all House seats would have meant winning a majority of House seats in every election. Now it's estimated that Democrats might have to win the House popular vote by as much as 5-7% just to win a single seat majority. If the 2012 election had taken place using 2010 districts, Democrats would be in a majority in the House right now.
2. GOP control of the House is a virtual certainty after 2014, but the Senate is a big question mark. Republicans were thought to have better than a 50% chance to take the Senate in 2012, only to lose seats due to controversial statements by GOP challengers and victories by extremely conservative Republicans over moderate Republicans in non-deep red states. We'll know much more when we get close to the GOP primaries.
3. I'll write about this later, but the RNC I think is behaving stupidly with the games it's playing over 2016 primary debates. If the GOP primary debates end up with only friendly non-journalist moderators on friendly TV networks, the GOP nominee won't be prepared to deal with a moderator that's going to ask tough questions (compared to what they've had so far). And if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, they'll already be facing a proven debater and thus starting at a disadvantage.