Democrats Can Lose the Senate at Any Moment


The list of factors threatening the Democrats’ majority in the Senate is well-known.

In midterm elections, the White House’s team has a history of losing seats. The president’s dismal approval ratings in key swing states, which are even lower than his poor national approval numbers, indicate problems ahead.

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Republican dominance of Congress is now preferred by voters. In other places, Republicans have implemented election security measures and put partisans in charge of vote counting.

The Details

All of these factors might lead to the GOP taking control of the Senate, following the 2022 election.

However, given the precarious nature of that majority — a 50-50 tie overcome only by Kamala Harris’ vote as vice president  — the ending of Democratic dominance could come sooner than expected.

For one thing, the conflict involving West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and his party’s more liberal sections raises the likelihood of his departure from the caucuses, even though he denies the prospect.

Those with functioning brains will remember what happened in an equally divided Congress in 2001. Vermont’s Jim Jeffords declared his plans of becoming an Independent and caucusing with Democrats.

This effectively swapped control of Congress and made Tom Daschle the ranking member until the 2002 midterm elections. Manchin would not even have to cross party lines; if he merely left the Democrat Party, the Republicans would gain control of the Senate.

There is also another scenario that should make liberals go for the Maalox; a stroke of luck might hand the Senate to conservatives, not just next January, but next summertime, next month, or even next week.

A political avalanche could be triggered by harm or disease that switches the power of the country’s highest legislative body practically instantaneously.

The Variables

States have a variety of rules in place to replace a senator who dies, but the vast majority directs the governor to appoint a replacement.

Only seven of these require the governor to choose someone from the same political party. So, there are 30 states in which the governor can appoint anybody she or he wants as a new lawmaker.

In practice, this means a Republican governor has the right to remove one or both Senate Democrats in nine states (as of January 15).

If a single Democrat senator in any one of those regions were to resign, the state’s Republican governor could nominate a GOP successor, giving the party an automatic 51-49 Senate majority.

Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin will join a team of Republican governors from jurisdictions with two Senate Democrats (including Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, and Arizona) when he takes office later in the month.

Ohio and Montana, for example, both have one member of Congress and a Republican governor. Maryland, Arizona, North Carolina, as well as Kentucky, are states where the parties are guaranteed to keep their seats under state legislation.