United States Senate elections, 2014
- 1 Partisan breakdown
- 2 Campaign finance
- 3 Outside race ratings
- 4 Issues in 2014
- 5 Government shutdown
- 6 Syria
- 7 Gang of Eight
- 8 Farm bill
- 9 Affordable Care Act
- 10 Student Success Act
Elections to the U.S. Senate will be held on November 4, 2014. A total of 33 of the 100 seats are up for regular election. Additionally, three special elections will take place in 2014 to fill vacancies that occurred in the 113th Congress (Hawaii, South Carolina and Oklahoma). These special elections will take place on November 4, 2014, for a total of 36 Senate elections.
Those elected to the U.S. Senate in the 33 regular elections on November 4, 2014, will begin their six-year terms on January 3, 2015.
The 2014 elections mark the 100th anniversary of the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. Prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913, U.S. Senators were selected by state legislatures.
As of November 2014, six senators have announced they will not be running for re-election, while four U.S. Senators resigned their posts early. This means that at least ten seats will have a different occupant in January 2015. In 2012, ten incumbent senators did not run for re-election, and twelve did not run for re-election in 2010.
In 2014, Republicans need to pick up six seats currently held by Democrats in order to gain a majority.
Four incumbent Democratic U.S. Senators have announced that they are not running for re-election in 2014, and the GOP is considered a favorite to pick up the seats they are leaving vacant. Three other states with Democratic U.S. Senators up for re-election in 2014 (Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina) are generally considered to have GOP-leaning electorates.
In 2012, the Democratic Party retained control over the chamber, winning 25 of the 33 seats. With Republican candidates winning only eight seats, this was the worst performance by a major party since the 1950s.
The following table displays the partisan composition of the U.S. Senate heading into the 2014 elections.
|U.S. Senate Partisan Breakdown|
|Party||As of November 2014||After the 2014 Election|
As of November 2014, six senators have announced they are not running for re-election in 2014. In addition to the following list, four senators left office early: Max Baucus (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). The deaths of Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and the early resignation of Coburn, will necessitate three special elections to be held with the 33 regular elections on November 4, 2014.
|Jay Rockefeller||Democratic||West Virginia|
|Tim Johnson||Democratic||South Dakota|
- Mary Landrieu (LA) had raised $1.2 million and had $3.5 million cash on hand
- Mark Pryor (AK) had raised $1.9 million and had $3.4 million cash on hand
- Kay Hagan (NC) had raised $1.6 million and had $2.7 million cash on hand
- Mark Begich (AK) had raised $948,000 and had $1.5 million cash on hand
An August 2013 Politico report reported that the 27 incumbents running for re-election in 2014 had together raised about $125 million by the end of June 2013. The report also found that 2014 may be the most expensive midterm election to date, pointing to the fact that the total amount raised for incumbents seeking re-election is $30 million more than at the same point in 2012 and on par with the amount they had raised in 2010.
The incumbents highlighted in the article were:
- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led in fundraising, having raised more than $15 million for the 2014 cycle
- Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Cornyn (TX) have raised more than $8 million in the 2014 cycle
- Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Pryor (AR) and Mary Landrieu (LA) have each raised between $4 million to $7 million in the 2014 cycle
DSCC and NRSC
Both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) work to elect candidates from their respective parties to the U.S. Senate.
The DSCC outraised their GOP counterpart, the NRSC, by one million dollars in October 2013. The DSCC raised $4.8 million compared to the NRSC's $3.8 million. This was the organization's best off-year October in their history.
At that time, the DSCC had raised $14 million more than the NRSC, a total of $43.5 million raised. They reported $11.1 million cash on hand. However, the organization was also carrying $6.2 million in debt. The NRSC had $5 million cash on hand at the end of October 2013.
July 2013 memo
In July 2013, NRSC president, Rob Collins, circulated a memo to top donors outlining the path to a majority in the Senate for the Republican Party. From the memo:
- "Montana now joins West Virginia and South Dakota as the third red-state where Democrats have not only failed to land their top candidates, but to recruit a candidate capable of winning a general election matchup."
Collins reiterated that Republicans need to win just three seats in states with incumbent Democratic senators.
NRSC fundraising worries
In September 2013, Politico released a report fundraising and internal problems within the NRSC. The group had only raised $21.7 million through September in 2013, which was $5 million less than it had at the same time in 2009, with 2010 being the most recent midterm elections.
There was also speculation that a staff chasm has left some staffers loyal to Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), the acting NRSC chairman, while others fall more in line with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the vice chairman of finance.
Outside race ratings
|U.S. Senate predictions|
|Prediction from:||Month||Solid D||Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R||Solid R|
|Rothenberg Political Report||June 28, 2013||12||1||1||5||2||2||12|
|Sabato's Crystal Ball||June 27, 2013||7||3||3||5||2||3||11|
|Rothenberg Political Report||October 16, 2013||12||2||2||2||1||4||12|
|Rothenberg Political Report||December 18, 2013||11||1||2||1||2||1||12|
|Sabato's Crystal Ball||January 6, 2014||7||4||4||2||4||1||11|
Cook Political Report
|Cook Political Report Race Rating -- U.S. Senate|
|Month||Solid D||Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R||Solid R||Total D||Total R||Total races|
|June 27, 2013||6||5||6||3||0||4||11||17||15||35|
|August 2, 2013||7||4||6||2||3||2||11||17||16||35|
|October 17, 2013||7||4||6||2||3||2||11||17||16||35|
|December 19, 2013||7||5||4||3||3||1||12||16||16||35|
|February 7, 2014||6||6||4||3||3||1||13||16||17||36|
|February 27, 2014||6||5||5||3||3||1||13||16||17||36|
|March 19, 2014||8||2||3||7||2||2||12||13||16||36|
|April 25, 2014||8||2||2||8||2||2||12||12||16||36|
|August 15, 2014||7||3||1||9||2||3||11||11||16||36|
|September 19, 2014||7||3||1||9||1||3||12||11||16||36|
|October 17, 2014||7||3||1||10||1||2||12||11||15||36|
Changes by month
- From June 27, 2013, to August 2, 2013, Cook's race ratings changed in the following states:
- Virginia went from Likely Democrat to Solid Democrat
- Arkansas went from Likely Democrat to Solid Democrat
- Iowa went from Lean Democrat to Tossup
- Montana went from Tossup to Lean Republican
- West Virginia went from Tossup to Lean Republican
- Georgia went from Lean Republican to Likely Republican
- Kentucky went from Likely Republican to Tossup
According to an analysis by Nate Silver, previously of The New York Times and now at his own blog FiveThirtyEight, Democrats are looking at a tough road ahead of them in the U.S. Senate in 2014. Democrats hold 21 of the 35 seats up for election in 2014, and there are more Democratic controlled seats that lean Republican than Republican seats that lean Democratic.
Additionally, Democrats could suffer from a lower voter turnout of their base due to the fact that 2014 is a midterm election and President Obama will not be on the ballot.
However, Republicans need to take six seats in order to gain control of the Senate, a large gain that will be difficult to accomplish even in a favorable environment. Silver's March 2014 ratings predicted that Republicans will indeed pick-up those six seats.
Most notably, in his March 2014 analysis, Silver broke up the possible key Republican pick-ups into two categories:
- Democrat-held seats likely to be picked up by Republicans (4): West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas
- Democrat-held seats that are toss-ups (4): Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska and Michigan
The table below lists Silver's race ratings overview for the 36 senate seats up for election in 2014 as of November 2014.
|FiveThirtyEight -- U.S. Senate|
|Month||Solid D||Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R||Solid R|
|February 20, 2013||6||7||3||4||0||4||11|
|July 15, 2013||8||4||3||3||0||4||13|
|March 23, 2014||10||2||3||1||1||4||16|
Most vulnerable seats
The FiscalTimes compiled a list of the seven most vulnerable Senate seats up for election in 2014. The seven included in the list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Going into the 2014 election, all seven seats are held by Democrats.
For the 2014 election cycle, The Washington Post will release periodic lists of the 10 Senate seats most in danger of changing control in 2014. Their December 2013 rankings are below, along with their August 2013 ranking of the race in parentheses:
- 10. Georgia & Michigan: "Last quarter, Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn and Michigan Republican Terri Lynn Land both showed that they can raise money. Both are underdogs who need circumstances to fall in their favor to have a good shot at winning. The key for them is to do everything they can to put themselves in a strong position leading up to the election in case the door is open. (Previous ranking: 10)"
- 9. Iowa: "None of the Republican candidates put up impressive fundraising numbers last quarter, while Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley’s money machine kept on churning. If state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) wants to distinguish herself in the crowded GOP field, she is going to have to pick up the pace. (Previous ranking: 9)"
- 8. North Carolina: "The air war is heating up already. Americans for Prosperity recently hit Sen. Kay Hagan (D) with an ad tying her to President Obama while Senate Majority PAC came to her defense with a spot saying those who are attacking her tried to shut the government down. North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) won’t run, which is good news for state House Speaker Thom Tillis, albeit not unexpected news, either. Tillis still has to deal with tea party candidate Greg Brannon, who is dealing with his own issues, like potential plagiarism. (Previous ranking: 8)"
- 7. Kentucky: "The willingness of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) to negotiate an end to the shutdown showdown seemed to indicate that he is less worried about his primary challenge than many people may have thought. Indeed, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes looks like the bigger worry for McConnell at this point, especially after she put up a huge third quarter fundraising number. We’ll be watching to see whether the Senate Conservatives Fund endorsement of Matt Bevin (R) does anything to help him move the needle against McConnell, against whom he’s made little progress. (Previous ranking: 7)"
- 6. Louisiana: "GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy’s disappointing fundraising haul and SCF’s endorsement of Rob Maness (R) was turbulence the GOP did not need as it looks to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). But Landrieu, like other red state Democrats, will have to deal with the fallout from the rollout of Obamacare. Still, the GOP’s issue here and the growing sense among strategists that Landrieu could be a tough out moves Louisiana down the line one spot. (Previous ranking: 5)"
- 5. Alaska: "Former Alaska attorney general Dan Sullivan (R) recently made his campaign official, putting him in the mix with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who announced a bid this summer, and disastrous 2010 nominee Joe Miller, who has filed papers to run. A rough primary would be welcome news for Sen. Mark Begich (D). (Previous ranking: 6)"
- 4. Arkansas: "Ads pegged to the government shutdown in this race illustrated how both political parties will seek to use the standoff to their advantage. Meanwhile, competitive House races and a competitive governor’s race make Arkansas an interesting state to watch, and a coordinated Democratic effort could boost the chances of Sen. Mark Pryor (D). Still, Pryor remains the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent on the map. (Previous ranking: 4)"
- 3. Montana: "Republicans landed the recruit they wanted this week when Rep. Steve Daines entered the race. Democrats, meanwhile, are rallying around Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who faces a primary against former lieutenant governor John Bohlinger (D). Bohlinger raised eyebrows when he compared the tea party to the Taliban. This is a must-win race for Republicans hoping to win back the majority. So far, it’s been going well for them. (Previous ranking: 2)"
- 2. South Dakota: "It’s been nearly a year since Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) became one of the first high-profile Republicans to announce for the Senate this cycle. It’s been a good decision for her so far. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) entered the race after numerous other Democrats passed. Capito is in the driver’s seat in a state where Obama is woefully unpopular. (Previous ranking: 2)"
- 1. West Virginia: " The seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D) remains the GOP’s best opportunity for a pickup. After sputtering at first as a fundraiser, former governor Mike Rounds has put together two straight $600,000+ quarters. (Previous ranking: 1)"
Issues in 2014
- See also United States budget debate, 2013
Beginning in August 2013, House and Senate members began discussing the possibility of a government shutdown over the funding of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). On September 20, Republicans passed a spending bill in the House that funds the government until December, but strips funding from Obamacare. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate would hold a procedural vote on Wednesday, September 24, many senators began to announce their positions on voting against a cloture, the motion to end debate on a bill. After Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a marathon speech, the motion for cloture was accepted and Reid was able to strip the Obamacare defunding language contained in the Republican House members' continuing resolution (CR).
Following the successful cloture vote and the Senate subsequently sending a clean continuing resolution back to the House, the two chambers began a high-stakes game of hot potato. By September 30, the House had voted and sent three resolutions to the Senate that all were struck down. The Senate then sent back a clean resolution stripped of any healthcare defunding language. With Obamacare being the issue-at-hand, Congress was unable to agree on whether a resolution would fund the landmark healthcare law.
In the midst of the government shutdown in October 2013, talks began regarding the impending debt ceiling.
Polling during the shutdown
|Congressional approval rating|
|Poll||Total approve||Total disapprove||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
|The Economist/YouGov (September 21-23, 2013)||9%||72%||+/-5.1||690|
|CBS/New York Times (September 19-23, 2013)||14%||80%||+/-3||1,014|
|CNN/ORC (September 27-29, 2013)||10%||87%||+/-3.5||803|
|Gallup (October 3-6, 2013)||11%||85%||+/-4||1,028|
|AP-GfK (October 3-7, 2013)||5%||83%||+/-3.4||1,227|
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to|
Approval of own congressmen
During the shutdown, American's disapproval rating of their own congressmen reached new a new high, with almost as many people stating disapproval of their member (43%) to approval (44%). The Gallup poll concluded:
- "While members of Congress may continue to argue that problems with the image of the body as a whole is not their fault, and that they are doing nothing more than faithfully representing their particular constituents, it is clear that even their own constituents are less positive about the job they are doing than they were in the past."
- See also: United States involvement in Syria
In August 2012, President Obama said the "red line" for U.S. involvement in Syria was the use of chemical or biological weapons. In April 2013, reports surfaced that Syria had used chemical weapons twice in their civil war, but it was not enough for the U.S. to intervene. In June 2013, President Obama authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels following more reports of small scale chemical weapon attacks.
On August 21, 2013, the Syrian government was accused of a chemical weapons attack on a town in the suburbs of Damascus, killing thousands, including women and children. On September 3, 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and General Martin Dempsey met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support President Obama's decision to use military force to intervene in the Syrian conflict. The group met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on September 5.
- See also: Gang of Eight
On May 6, 2013, Senators John McCain (R), Chuck Schumer (D), Richard Durbin (D), Robert Menendez (D), Michael Bennet (D), Lindsey Graham (R), Marco Rubio (R) and Jeff Flake (R) unveiled the outlines of their bi-partisan immigration plan. The statement of principles was rather broad, but sets forth “four basic pillars”:
- 1. A “tough but fair path to citizenship . . . .contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country as required”;
- 2. Reform our legal immigration system with a greater eye toward our economic needs;
- 3. Workplace verification; and
- 4. Setting up a system for admitting future workers (although the term “guest worker” is not used).
On June 27, 2013, in a late afternoon vote, the Senate voted to approve the immigration reform bill, Senate Bill 744. The bill passed by a vote of 68-to-32, with 14 Republicans voting in favor.
Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans in a closed-door meeting on July 10, 2013 that the internal debate over immigration reform is an “important conversation," and that while the House will not take up the Senate-passed bill, members must do something to address the issue.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) on July 8, 2013 ridiculed the House’s strategy of using the “Hastert rule” to pass legislation and said Speaker John Boehner will eventually have to take up the Senate’s immigration bill. Reid also said Boehner’s adherence to the “Hastert Rule” requiring a majority of Republican caucus votes to move legislation is emblematic of the lower chamber’s dysfunction.
- See also: United States Farm Bill 2013
The Senate passed a $1 trillion farm bill in June 2013 to fund both food stamps and farmer subsidies. States heavy in agriculture, including ones that will be competitive in 2014, may turn more favorably to Democratic candidates due to Republican opposition of the bill. The vote was 66-27, with 25 of the 27 nay votes being from Republicans. The two Democratic senators to vote against the bill were Jack Reed (RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Both Montana and South Dakota, with agriculture being a major industry, will reap the benefits of the bill and also have open seats due to the retirement of Max Baucus (D-MT) and Tim Johnson (D-SD).
The comprehensive bill failed in the House due largely in part to the votes of 8 Democratic House members who joined the Republican majority to vote down the measure. Reps. Collin Peterson, John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Cheri Bustos, Sean Maloney, Mike McIntyre, Bill Owens and Tim Walz were the eight Democratic members who voted to reject the bill. According to analysis by OpenSecrets.org, many of these Democratic members have received significant political contributions from agricultural organizations that benefit from crop insurance subsidies. Five of the eight are on the House Agriculture Committee--Peterson, Bustos, Maloney, McIntyre, and Walz-- from which agribusiness firms routinely target committee members with sizable contributions.
Upon arrival at the House, the bill was altered by focusing solely on the farm programs and did not include the food stamp program, which will be voted on later. The House and Senate will now need to draft a final bill through conference committee.
For senators up for re-election in 2016, this will be the first election since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This may be problematic for Democratic senators who voted in favor of the bill in states where it is no longer popular. Among these senators include:
Sen. Lee letter
In July 2013, Lee authored a letter, which as of August 2013 had been signed by 14 Republican senators, which promised a government shutdown unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded. The senators up for re-election in 2014 who signed the letter are:
Senate Conservative Fund targets
The Senate Conservative Fund targeted Sens. Isakson (R-GA), Graham (R-SC), Alexander (R-TN) and Burr (R-NC) in August 2013 with two weeks of radio ads designed to push Senate Republicans to support Utah's Mike Lee's effort to defund Obamacare.
House Republicans passed a bill, the Student Success Act, on July 19, 2013, to reduce the federal role in public education and outline their vision for a national educational policy to replace the No Child Left Behind law. The measure would give state and local governments greater powers to determine how best to improve schools and would sharply reduce federal involvement in education matters.
It marks a significant departure from No Child Left Behind, the 2002 law that set federal goals for academic achievement and penalties for schools that fell short of those goals, as well as prescriptions for steps states must take to improve failing schools.
No Democrats supported the bill, which passed by a 221 to 207 margin, with 12 Republicans voting with the Democrats against the measure. It marked the first time in a dozen years that either chamber of Congress approved a comprehensive bill to update federal education law.
The House bill is said to have no chance of moving through the Democratic-led Senate as it is written and President Obama has threatened to veto it. The Senate committee overseeing education has completed work on its own measure that would give states greater flexibility in writing their own plans to improve schools. But, unlike the Republican proposal that passed the House, that bill would allow the education secretary to retain approval power over those proposals. Full Senate consideration of the measure is unlikely to happen before the fall of 2014.
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- Roll Call, "Inside the 2014 Senate Races"
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- Cook Political Report, "2014 SENATE RACE RATINGS," October 17, 2014
- The New York Times, "Can Republicans Win the Senate in 2014?," February 20, 2013
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