Obviously, there are a ton of races that are too close to call at the present moment and the Democrats might well end up retaining control of the Senate and perhaps gaining a couple of gubernatorial seats. However, the smarter money right now is on the Democrats losing at least 6 seats in the Senate (and possibly as many as 10) while failing to capitalize on a number of choice opportunities at gubernatorial mansions. Obviously, these losses stand to damage President Obama’s public standing as they are at least partially a reflection of the public’s deep discontent with his handling of the Presidency. Additionally, they will likely make his life more difficult over the final two years of his Presidency.
However, while Democrats have been running scared from being seen in public with President Obama, other prominent Democrats have attempted to step into the fundraising and star-power void left behind by a toxic incumbent, and none have been more notable or prominent than the Clintons. Hillary Clinton in particular has been hitting the stump hard as she attempts to earn herself chits to fend off any possible 2016 primary challenge. The Washington Post notes that she has headlined at least 45 prominent events over the last 54 days in support of Democrat candidates.
Clinton’s decision to step down as Secretary of State after President Obama’s first term was definitely a politically shrewd one. Recent political history indicates that Presidential second terms tend overwhelmingly to be scandal-ridden train wrecks and Clinton definitely did the right thing by exiting that particular train. But this year as midterms approached, Hillary faced a difficult choice. Probably the smarter play for Hillary was to sit this election out rather than risk associating herself with a Democrat bloodbath. However, doing so would have given ammunition to her enemies within the party who have long grumbled (correctly) that the Clintons are mostly interested in helping to advance the Clintons. And so Hillary decided to roll the dice on Election Day 2014 perhaps not being as bad as the Democrats feared and thus earning credit as the savior of the Democrat party.
Unfortunately for Hillary, her most high profile causes appear to be among the most prominent Democrat underperformers in this election. Clinton has virtually camped (for obvious reasons) in New Hampshire in 2014 on the stump for Jeanine Shaheen, who once held a comfortable lead but now appears in very real danger of losing to a Massachusetts carpetbagger. Clinton has likewise gone to the wall for Alison Grimes in Kentucky, whose campaign has overtly played up the connection with the Clintons and has floundered and all but collapsed down the stretch. Clinton has likewise headlined four events for [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000038′ ] during the week that almost perfectly coincided with Udall’s more-or-less permanent slide to underdog status in the race. Clinton has likewise stumped for Martha Coakley who appears to be on the verge of losing statewide for the second time to a Republican in Massachusetts. Clinton has likewise been a regular visitor to [mc_name name=’Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001259′ ] campaign stops, and Braley is likewise headed in the wrong direction in the polls. Of the candidates Clinton has stumped for over the last two months, only [mc_name name=’Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’H001049′ ] can be said to be running anywhere above where you would expect to see a Democrat running at this point of the race, and Hillary has done exactly one event with Hagan during this time.
Given this rather dismal record on the trail, it seems that Hillary is really mostly racking up a series of chits with people who are likely to lose their elections tomorrow and thus not have meaningful chits to give in return. And moreover, during the course of this bloodbath, she has forcibly reminded many Democrat voters of what they might have otherwise forgotten since the debacle of 2008; namely, that in terms of political skill, Hillary is not Bill. In fact, not only is she not Bill, she’s very good at all, or even average. Literally the only thing that connects her to the man who won the Presidency twice is a last name, which is enough to give her a lead in meaningless polls at this point, but which many remain nervous will not translate into actual campaign success in 2016.
Many Democrats stand to lose their jobs tomorrow, which will of course have a meaningful impact on those Democrats as they migrate over to K Street. But in terms of long-term opportunity costs, perhaps no one has more to lose tomorrow than Hillary Clinton.