Mitch McConnell's Tape And The 2014 Senate Landscape

Was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the target of a malicious bugging operation by left-wing conspirators seeking to derail his 2014 re-election bid? We can leave that to the FBI to determine.

But what we do know is McConnell's poll numbers are not good, and stories of nefarious Nixon-esque buggings likely won't do much to bolster his already sizeable re-election war chest. No Democrat has entered the race – performer Ashley Judd backed out after a rough meeting with former governor and still party stalwart Wendell Ford – but a credible opponent could pose a real challenge.

In The Not-So-Sanguine Category …

If McConnell prevails, it could be a clean sweep for Republicans in defending the 14 seats that will come up in 2014. Only Susan Collins in Maine and the eventual Republican nominee in Georgia are in any danger, and Collins has not drawn a credible Democratic opponent as yet.

The big question will be whether Republicans can net six Democratic seats and regain control of the upper chamber. Democrats will be defending 21 seats next year, and several are up for grabs. Rep. Shelly Moore-Capito, a Republican from a well-known state political dynasty, has raced out to a big lead in the Mountain State. The retiring Tim Johnson's seat in South Dakota could also easily flip.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Analysis & Political Strategy