Here’s Why Republicans May Be in Trouble, Even With a Senate Majority

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With November elections nearly upon us, the Senate race is being watched with even greater fervor. While it’s never over ’til it’s over, the numbers have long been in favor of the GOP to take the majority of seats when all is said and done. Democrats have been working and campaigning hard to make up that difference, but Republicans are still favored to win.

Assuming they do take the Senate, that will leave both houses of Congress with a GOP advantage. Most Americans don’t have a strong preference over a divided-party government or one-party majority, at least according to a September Gallup poll, which shows only four out of 10 believe it matters a “great deal” who has control of Congress. Cynics on both sides of the aisle hint that this may be a fair assessment, arguing that even if their parties take the majority, it may not matter.

“The irony of this cycle is that hundreds of millions are going to be spent fighting over an outcome that won’t impact the policy Americans see out of Washington one bit,” said a senior Washington Democrat to Time.

“We’re promising people that things will dramatically change if we win the majority, but we all know that’s not going to happen,” echoed a GOP campaign operative to the same publication. Looking at a series of graphs in a recent report from Cook Political, it’s believable that a Republican victory might even make policy efforts more difficult, rather than smoother.

What about compromise?

The report points out that while many Americans on the left say they’d like to see an increase in compromise over legislation, Republicans — Tea Party members especially — do not share that sentiment. Overall, there’s a 50% desire to compromise and a 42% desire to see candidates “stick to his/her position.” When you look at parties specifically, it shows Democrats with a 62% desire to compromise, Republicans with a 37% desire, and Tea Party members with a 32% desire.

Tie that reluctance to compromise with a majority of Republican voters’ desire to see Obamacare repealed, and there’s an almost definite policy bog for Congress members to get dragged down into. Spending a great deal of time and energy on Obamacare and a suit against Obama would be a distraction from other major issues, like immigration and tax code reform.

The report also found that direction is perceived as a significant issue, with a majority of people across parties — even in the Republican Party itself — saying that they do not believe Republicans in Congress have a strategy for handing the biggest issues that America will need to contend with in coming years. Forty-seven percent of Republicans doubt the existence of a “clear plan,” while 40% say they believe the GOP in Congress does have a plan.

The House of Representatives and John Boehner

The House of Representatives might be seeing a whole new problem, as well — more accurately, an entirely new set of them. While incoming members may be part of the Republican Party, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily agree with other GOP opinions. And because so many incumbents left office this year in order to retire — 25 in total — with three seats being battled out by competitors, there will be a lot of new blood in the legislature. This will likely be quite the job for House Speaker John Boehner to manage and attempt to control. The Republican Party has been particularly splinted in the last year, with far-right Tea Party politicians butting heads with more centrist Republicans.

For many, the idea of losing embedded politicians is a welcome one — people consider refreshing Congress with new faces to be a positive thing. With so many voters frustrated with the current Congress, replacing members seems an obvious solution, though incumbents have a strong advantage in being voted back, in regardless of this sentiment. However, that may not be entirely realistic.

“With 25 Republican members of Congress retiring, years of legislative expertise and wisdom are lost,” James Thurber, head of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, told Time. “Deep knowledge about lawmaking and policy will be replaced by highly ideological amateurs. This is a perfect formula for trouble for Speaker Boehner. He loses knowledgeable and trusted friends for an unpredictable and ungovernable caucus.”

Follow Anthea on Twitter @AntheaWSCS

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