Two months before Election Day, the battle for the Senate is wide open. Republicans have an excellent chance of taking over, based on the map and on voter unhappiness with President Obama and the larger dysfunction in Washington.
Of course, the Democrats could hold on. Vulnerable Democratic senators are hanging tough in polls and now have an unexpected opportunity for a pickup in Kansas. But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that Republicans do gain at least six seats and win the majority. Then what? We’re already in gridlock with just the House in GOP hands. If Republicans control both houses of Congress, do we just double down on gridlock?
Maybe, but not necessarily, analysts say. Already, Senate Republicans are quietly working on an agenda for next year that looks modest in scope but in fact could have a powerful impact on the party’s image: It could show that Republicans are interested in governing. And it’s possible that Mr. Obama, looking out for his legacy and for his party’s own image, might play along.
For the Republicans, “it really is about perception,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “First, can these guys win elections? Then, can they govern?”