On Nov. 2, Will the Senate be Flooded with Freshmen?

For the first time since 1982 after the churning elections of ’76, ’78, and ’80, voters may usher in a Senate with the majority of its senators in their first terms. There seems to be consensus among the voters that any change to Congress will be for the better.

According to The Washington Post‘s George Will, there certainly will be new senators from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia. Democratic incumbents trail by as little as 3 to as many as 20 points in the polls.

Thus far, the largest number of freshman senators since 1913 (when popular election of senators became mandatory) is 20, and already we potentially are looking at 18 first year senators at least. Many more Democratic incumbents could lose, pushing the number over record height.

If the majority of senators are brand new, we may face “an anomalous condition that would have perplexed and perhaps vexed the Founding Fathers: The average seniority of House members might be higher than the average seniority of senators” (George Will). The senate was designed to be the more stable half of Congress, yet the House of Representatives will gain seniority over most of the incoming Senate.

If the Senate is flooded with first-term members, many of those members will have won by expressing disgust and dissent with Washington’s current agenda and the norm. After November, Republicans will focus on gaining the Presidency. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell looks back at past examples of similar situations, and wisely is cautious. In 1946 (Truman), 1954 (Eisenhower), and 1996 (Clinton), the president lost control of both the House and Senate yet rode on to landslide reelection. If Republicans want to secure their position as heirs to the oval office, they need to play a tight game and not get reckless.

The country is poised for great change and it is vitally important that those making a play for positioning power are keeping their sights on realistic goals. Otherwise, the shiny “grand plan” will fall short of being effective and instead waste billions of dollars that we can’t afford. If certain policies are to be proposed, revised, or repealed, they need to be realistic, concise, and most importantly, aimed at the core problems that need solving.


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