MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2021
A rough account of a difficult task: Under current arrangements, how hard is it for Democrats to win a majority in the Senate?
Judging from appearances, it's hard! Consider the results of the last two presidential elections.
In 2020, Candidate Biden defeated Candidate Trump by roughly 7.1 million votes—by roughly 4.4% of the total vote.
That said, Biden won only 25 states. Using that election as a (very rough) model, Democratic victories of that fairly decent magnitude would tend to produce a 50-50 Senate instead of some sort of Democratic majority.
The climb looks even more uphill based on 2016. In that election, Candidate Clinton defeated Candidate Trump by roughly 2.9 million votes—by roughly 2.1% of the total vote.
Candidate Clinton won the national vote—but she won only 20 states! Using that election as a very rough model, Democratic wins of that magnitude would tend to produce a 60-40 Republican Senate!
This is a very crude way of quantifying this problem. That said, everyone knows how this unfortunate sinkhole works:
The smaller states get two senators each, just as the larger states do. But at the present time, the smaller states tend to tilt conservative.
This creates a situation in which it's hard for Democrats to assemble a serious Senate majority, even as the party keeps winning the nationwide vote in Senate and White House voting.
Biden has only 50 senators—and one of them hails from bright red West Virginia! For the past year, our daydreaming tribe has preferred to whistle past the graveyard which has been built at the foot of this uphill climb!
The last Republican victor: The last Republican to win the nationwide popular vote was George W. Bush, and he did so only once. In 2004, he defeated Candidate Kerry by roughly 3.0 million votes—by roughly 2.4% of the total vote.
That was a fairly modest win—but Bush won 31 states that year! With respect to so-called "Senate math," you can take it from there.