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The path to a filibuster-proof Senate



7.

That is the number of Senate seats Republicans need to add in 2020 to obtain a filibuster-proof Senate.

Their ace in the hole is President Donald John Trump.

But he is the closer. First they have to make their pitch and set themselves up for victory. That means lining up better candidates than Democrats.

On the surface, Republicans face steep odds as they must win 30 of next year's 35 Senate races. Each race is individual and separate, although also affected by national politics.

Only 19 Republican incumbents are running again. They have to defend 23 seats and take 7 of the 12 Democrat seats. That is a tall order.

What is encouraging that they defeated 4 incumbent Democrats in the midterm, the best midterm showing for a party in power in 84 years. The party in power is supposed to lose midterms. Under President Trump, Republicans had a rare net gain of 2 Senate seats in 2018.

Money does not seem to be an object nationally. Thanks to President Donald John Trump's fund-raising efforts, the RNC is loaded, Meanwhile, the DNC is busted.

The 19 Republican incumbents are solid. Republicans must recruit 16 newcomers, 4 to replace retiring Republicans and 12 to challenge in Democrat held states.

The replacements for retiring Republicans look good. Jeff Sessions should flip Alabama back. If they hold the 23 seats Republicans have and flip Alabama back, Republicans will have a nice 54-46 majority.

But Colorado and Maine are Democrat states with Republican senators. That would trim the majority to 52-48.

This is where President Trump comes into play. In the 22 states he carried in 2016 that had a Senate race, Republicans won the seat. They did not win a single one of the 12 races in Hillary states.

If he does that again, and wins the same Senate races in Trump Country, Republicans win 23 races -- with Colorado and Maine flipping Democrat, and Alabama and Michigan flipping Republican.

However, President Trump can win Colorado and Maine based on the good economy and the lousy candidate Democrats choose.

Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New Mexico also look flippable, which would give Republicans a nice 5-seat gain to a 58-42 Senate majority.

After that, the odds grow long for Republicans because President Trump would have to flip Virginia, plus either Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Oregon.

Pretty much 59 would be the ceiling, and a pretty tall ceiling at that.

But at least there is a path to 60 for Republicans.

The Democrat path to 51 -- a 4-seat gain -- requires flipping Colorado and Maine (doable) and keeping Michigan (doable). But after that, Democrats will be scrapping to pick up 2 seats in Trump Country. If, as is likely, Republicans regain Alabama, Democrats will have to swipe 3 seats from the Republicans. I just do not see that.

Even though Democrats have more targets, I like Republican odds of getting 60 better than Democrat odds of getting to 51.

But that requires good candidates. A Roy Moore here and a Christine O'Donnell there and pretty soon Chuck Schumer is the the majority leader.

In the House, Republicans need a net gain of 18 seats, which seems easy given how many first-termers Democrats have.

But the last incumbent president to win back the House after losing it in his first midterm was Harry Truman, which will be 72 years ago on Election Day.

But then again, in 2018, no one had defeated 4 incumbent opposition senators in a midterm since FDR defeated 8 in 1934.

11 months out, a filibuster-proof Senate and a House majority seem like a pipedream.

As did a Trump presidency 11 months before the 2016 election.

Heck, it was a pipedream 11 minutes before the election, wasn't it? At least, that is what the experts said.

The quality of Republican candidates is still the most important factor, but The Donald helps as few presidents have.

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