A path to Republican control of the Senate

The only real hope that moderate and conservative Americans have to put the country back on a path to greatness is to find ways to limit President Obama’s power for the next three years, and to scuttle the liberals’ governmental agenda.

How? The conservatives’ best bet is to increase Republicans’ political power to achieve checks and balances in the federal government. Right now, there is a great imbalance. Obama and the Democrats own the executive branch and the Senate. The Republicans own the House. This split hamstrings the legislative branch’s power, thwarting conservatives’ ability to change the laws of the land, revoke Obamacare or rescind Obama’s executive orders.

But the balance of power will shift if Republicans retake the Senate. Then, the legislative branch regains full check-and-balance powers on the executive branch and can put the brakes on Obama’s agenda.

How can Republicans win the Senate in 2014? For starters, factions within the GOP must stop cannibalizing one another. But even if that happens, Republicans need a winning strategy, and it starts with winning math.

Republicans hold 30 seats that are not up for election this year. They need 51 seats to gain control of the Senate, which means they need to win 21 of 36 elections this fall. The Republicans’ chances for winning are good in 17 of those races, leaving four more tougher races to win. The best chances for a Republican victory are in Louisiana, Iowa, Alaska and Montana, seats that are currently held by Democrats. The GOP could still gain Senate control by winning a different set of four, but other seats present more difficult challenges.

Task No. 1 for Republicans is to bring their antiquated ground game and grassroots strategy into the digital age, to be competitive with the innovative successes and superior field data introduced by Democrats over the past eight years. Republicans need to hire permanent field staff in key communities who are familiar with local voters or can build relationships with them.

Second, Republicans were handed a wonderful gift last month, a Congressional Budget Office study concluding that over the next 10 years, Obamacare will reduce or eliminate 2.5 million full-time jobs. Uh-oh. We were told Democratic entitlements were going to help people, not hurt them. Then, a University of Chicago economist showed that the best way to get the largest “health-insurance subsidy is to stay poor, underemployed or even jobless,” as the Wall Street Journal put it. That message will connect with voters, if Republican strategists package it correctly. Obamacare certainly played a role in defeating Democrat Alex Sink in a recent Florida congressional race.

If they want to win in November, Republicans need to:

  • Understand what Latinos and Hispanics really want;
  • Realize that the tea party principles of limited government, lower taxes and balanced budgets are very popular with the public;
  • Recognize that social issues are a deal-breaker for most young voters;
  • Empower religious cultures to fight their battles in the social sphere and not the government sphere;
  • Revive the “big-tent” concept;
  • Chart a more centrist course that attracts independents;
  • Marry grassroots energy with innovative digital technology;
  • Fight off the incestuous community of political consultants who inhibit technological and digital innovation.

Smart voters don’t just strive to win an election. They also fight to keep their worst political enemies from winning. And when facing an election you won’t win, voters should at least work hard to keep your worst adversary from winning. Republicans need to remember that supporting a fellow party member who only embraces some of their cherished policies is better than allowing true enemies to win.

Republicans, if your candidate can’t put together a platform of issues that appeal to 51 percent of voters, you can’t win. And if you can’t win, you can’t govern. When you can’t govern, you can’t change policy, which means you have no hope of seeing a government guided by your principles. What good is that? Such candidates don’t help themselves, or you.

Watch Nate Silver’s predictions for the 2014 election:



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John R. Smith


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