The Wall Street Journal has an early line on the 2014 midterm elections. Though Democrats are hopeful that they hold the Senate but retake the 17 seats in the House, the odds (and history) are against them.
Based on historical measures, it would take a massive popular preference for Democrats to overcome their logistical disadvantage, perhaps an almost unheard-of lead of 13 points in the generic ballot questions pollsters use ("will you vote Democratic or Republican for House in the next election?"). Currently, the generic ballot shows a slight Democratic lead of two to three points.
But what if the more competitive chamber in 2014 is the Senate? Democrats are defending seats in seven states that Mitt Romney won in last year’s presidential race: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Mr. Obama won an average of just 40.5% of the vote in these states. In addition, the retirements of longtime Sens. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) and Carl Levin (D., Mich.) make those previously safe seats much more competitive. Factor in some freshmen Democratic senators elected from swing states in Obama’s 2008 wave (the last time this batch of seats was contested), and Republicans could run competitive challenges in 10 or more Democrat-held seats. Incompetent GOP nominees could change the picture, but almost all of the seats that Republicans are defending are in solid-red states.