How Bad Was It For Democrats?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, and other Congressional leaders meet with President Barack Obama, regarding the debt ceiling, Wednesday, July 13, 2011, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in ... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, and other Congressional leaders meet with President Barack Obama, regarding the debt ceiling, Wednesday, July 13, 2011, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) MORE LESS
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With few exceptions, 2014 turned out to be the worst possible scenario for Democrats. The Senate is not only back in the hands of Republicans, but with a margin of seats over Democrats that only the most optimistic scenarios envisioned. Governorships that Democrats expected to wrest from Republicans proved out of their reach, but worse yet they stunningly lost gubernatorial races in solidly blue states.

Heading into Election Day, everybody seemed to agree that Republicans had the edge, but it could go either way. Democrats had a plausible if unlikely path to Senate victory, and a promised silver lining in red state governor races. But at midnight on Wednesday, that conventional wisdom looks almost laughably dated. Republicans won almost every meaningful race and, even in a few where they lost, they made Democrats sweat more than anyone expected.

Ousting Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and avoiding what would have been an unbelievable upset of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) are about the only small morsels that Democrats can hold onto. Otherwise, the map couldn’t have been any worse for Democrats — or better for Republicans.


Arkansas — Democratic Sen. Mary Pryor looks to be heading to a double-digit loss to Rep. Tom Cotton.

Colorado — Democratic Sen. Mark Udall was supposed to have a winning strategy to emulate, working off the playbook that propelled to Sen. Michael Bennet to an unexpected 2010 win and Democrats were exporting to other states. But Republican Cory Gardner beat Udall handily.

Georgia — One possible bright spot for Democrats was Michelle Nunn beating David Perdue to steal a Republican seat. But rather than even force a runoff in January by keeping Perdue under 50 percent, Nunn lost fairly easily.

Kentucky — No bigger prize than toppling Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Democrats also had a top recruit in Alison Lundergan Grimes and spent a lot of money to beat McConnell. But he triumphed handily.

Iowa — Like Colorado, a lightly blue state with a purportedly strong Democratic ground game — and Republican Joni Ernst cruised to a win over Bruce Braley.

North Carolina — Of all the toss-up races, Democrats seemed to be feeling the best about North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. But Republican Thom Tillis won out in a state that went for Obama in 2008.

Virginia — Nobody saw a close race here. Republican candidate Ed Gillespie pulled spending for his own campaign briefly in the final weeks of the campaign. But Democratic Sen. Mark Warner barely managed to eke out a win in a race that had observers in disbelief for most of the night.


Florida — Polling showed the race neck-and-neck, and Democrats were gleeful at the prospect of knocking off Rick Scott. In the end, he edged out a win over Democratic candidate and former Republican governor Charlie Crist.

Illinois — Few more reliably Democratic states than Illinois. But unpopular Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn fell to Republican Bruce Rauner.

Kansas — Ultra-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback was a favorite target for Democrats and they had a good candidate in state Sen. Paul Davis, who was polling well. But in the end, Kansas’s red tint won out.

Maryland — Like Illinois, a Democratic stalwart flips to Republican, with Democrat Anthony Brown losing to Republican Larry Hogan.

Massachusetts — The Illinois and Maryland recipe here, too. Democratic Martha Coakley loses a statewide race — again — this time to Republican Charlie Baker.

Wisconsin — Even more than Brownback or Scott, Republican Gov. Scott Walker — a presumed 2016 presidential aspirant — would have been a prize for Democrats. Mary Burke, at times, looked primed to give him a run for his money. But on Election Night, the outcome was never in doubt: Walker wins.

Vermont — This race had attracted attention only for the beards of some of its more obscure candidates. But Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, couldn’t earn enough votes to win the seat outright. Instead, the decision will go to the state legislature.

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