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Stuart Rothenberg | Obama looms large over 2014 Senate battle





Unlike 2012, when Democrats started with at least two serious takeover opportunities, in Massachusetts and Nevada , this cycle the party lacks any good takeover opportunities (before retirements). That reality, combined with a landscape that includes a number of Democratic seats in very conservative states (West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alaska and South Dakota), makes for an ever greater initial Democratic headache than at the start of last cycle.

With Senate contests next year in four strongly anti-Obama states, Democrats can’t afford a second Obama midterm election with a national electorate that wants to send a message of dissatisfaction with the president.

Obama carried just 35.5 percent of the vote in West Virginia, 36.9 percent in Arkansas, 39.9 percent in South Dakota, 40.6 percent in Louisiana, 40.8 percent in Alaska and 41.7 percent in Montana last year. While voters were able to split their tickets in 2012 and vote against Obama but for Democratic Senate nominees such as Joe Manchin III in West Virginia or Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, voters won’t be able to do the same thing in 2014.

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