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Posted at 8:01 a.m. on Feb. 9, 2012
In politics, it’s never too early to speculate about anything. Witness the New York Times’ recent assessment of what the 2016 Democratic presidential field might look like, before Republicans even have a 2012 nominee.
In today’s Roll Call, we look ahead to next cycle and assess the 2014 Senate landscape, as well as who might be tasked with overseeing each party’s Congressional campaign efforts.
Kyle Trygstad writes that the playing field for Senate Democrats is more lopsided than it is this year when you look at the dearth of competitive Republican seats up. This year, Republicans Scott Brown (Mass.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) are in tossup fights. But looking at the list of GOP Senators up for re-election in 2014, it’s hard to spot even one who begins the cycle in a dogfight.
Eight first-term Democrats up for re-election in 2014 won their first races in a uniquely positive climate for the party, with President Barack Obama helping candidates with his coattails across the country. In turn, the waves of 2006 and 2008 have now led to difficult situations for Democrats in a far less favorable environment for the party. … Democrats with the potential for a competitive challenge are Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Al Franken (Minn.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and Mark Warner (Va.).
Retirements will, as always, have a major bearing on the playing field. Fundraising, even in the cycle before a Senator is up, can be one indicator of future plans. At the end of 2011, 10 Senators in the class of 2014 had more than $2 million already socked away. Click here for a chart showing where the 2014 Senators stood financially at the beginning of the year.
So which Democrat will be tasked with defending the party’s 20 seats next cycle as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee? Shira Toeplitz looks at who is in the mix for that job (she names Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar) and the other Senate and House campaign committees.
“The grueling pace of these often-thankless gigs cannot be underestimated — from the nonstop travel for fundraising and recruiting to begging colleagues for” money, she writes.
Who did we overlook? Tell us in the comments section below.
Now, back to 2012… The annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC! — kicks off today. Trygstad has this preview of the conservative cattle call for the party’s Hill leaders and presidential hopefuls. Today’s speakers include Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). Tomorrow is presidential candidates day, with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all scheduled to take the stage. See a full lineup of speakers here.
Four years ago this week, Romney used his CPAC appearance to end his White House campaign. On Friday, he arrives as a presidential frontrunner mistrusted by conservatives and still seeking to build a wall of inevitability around his nomination. Stuart Rothenberg assesses the hoopla (fed by the media) surrounding Santorum’s sweep of Tuesday night’s primaries. What’s misunderstood by many is that Romney’s electability argument has everything to do with the general election, not the GOP nomination.
Romney has plenty of weaknesses, but they are most pronounced in the race for the GOP nomination, not in the general election. The folks over at CNN repeatedly noted on Tuesday night that Romney was losing states that he won handily four years ago, apparently confused about what that meant. They didn’t understand that four years ago conservatives were so desperate to stop Sen. John McCain that they embraced Romney as the conservative alternative to the Arizonan. This time, Romney is viewed as a moderate by those very same voters, who are turning either to Gingrich or Santorum as the alternative to Romney.
@PatrickRuffini: Calling it now: “Pinterest moms” will be the big swing voting bloc in 2012