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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Montana Senator Max Baucus To Retire In 2014: Looking Toward 2014 Senate Midterms

By Susan Duclos

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus will be retiring in 2014 rather than seeking re-election in the midterms in November 2014. Baucus, a six term Senator, was facing a stiff re-election battle in the red-leaning state of Montana and the Washington Post reports the likely Democratic candidate to succeed him would be former governor Brian Schweitzer.

The Daily Caller reports the NRSC has issued a statement on the new of Baucus retiring:

“Just days after calling ObamaCare a ‘train wreck,’ its architect Max Baucus waved the white flag rather than face voters,” the NRSC said in a statement. “ObamaCare has gone from being an ‘abstract’ discussion to a real life pain for workers and families, which has Democratic candidates like Bruce Braley, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich and Kay Hagan backpedaling. Vulnerable Democrats will face voters just as ObamaCare’s tax hikes, mandates, fees, penalties, and red tape bureaucracy take shape over the next eight months, and Senator Baucus’ retirement reflects that political reality. The 2014 electoral map is in free–fall for Democrats, who were already facing a daunting challenge.”

There are 33 Senate seats on the ballot for the 2014 midterm elections, and two special elections.

Out of the 33 seats, 20 of those seats are currently held by Democrats and 13 by Republicans. In the special elections one is held by a Democrat and the other a Republican.

Bringing the total to 21 Dem seats on the ballot and 14 GOP seats.

The makeup of the Senate after the 2012 elections is 53 Democrats,  45 Republicans and two Independents that caucus with Democrats on the majority of issues, making it 55 to 45.

The GOP goal for the 2014 midterms is a net gain of at least six seats in order to take control of the U.S. Senate.

Out of the 21 Democratically held seats, seven of them are in states carried by the former Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, while just one of the Republican seats is in a state won by President Obama. (Source- FiveThirtyEight)

To date, and these numbers will change if others announce retirement plans before the midterms, two Republicans have announced they are retiring and six Democrats with Baucus included.

The Republicans retiring are Georgia Senator Saxy Chambliss and  Nebraska's Mike Johanns.
The six Democrats are Iowa's Tom Harkin, Michigan's Carl Levin, New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg, South Dakota's Tim Johnson, West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller and now Montana's Max Baucus.

Historically, since 1938, the president's party has never gained Senate seats during his second term. The closest was Bill Clinton with zero gained or loss during his second term.

Year President Party President Approval Rating - Late October House Senate
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt D nd +9 +9
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt D 60% -71 -6
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt D nd -55 -9
1946 Harry S. Truman D 27% -45 -12
1950 Harry S. Truman D 41% -29 -6
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower R nd -18 -1
1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower R nd -48 -13
1962 John F. Kennedy D 61% -4 +3
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson D 44% -47 -4
1970 Richard Nixon R nd -12 +2
1974 Gerald R. Ford R nd -48 -5
1978 Jimmy Carter D 49% -15 -3
1982 Ronald Reagan R 42% -26 +1
1986 Ronald Reagan R nd -5 -8
1990 George Bush R 57% -8 -1
1994 William J. Clinton D 48% -52 -8
1998 William J. Clinton D 65% +5 0
2002 George W. Bush R 67% +8 +2
2006 George W. Bush R 37% -30 -6
Source: The American Presidency Project

 Negatives for the GOP

The difficulty for Republicans is they are unpopular with the general public, making it harder to predict how many seats they can gain in the 2014 midterms if any.

Positives for the GOP

Democrats are fighting against history and turnout for midterms generally is much lower than during years of a presidential election and those that do turnout in higher numbers tend to be conservative leaning.