The Democrats lost a tight Senate race in Missouri on Tuesday night, and the president’s economic team now faces the same difficult decisions as those of his own.
As the House races in Florida and Pennsylvania tighten and the Democrats have a new focus on winning back control of the Senate, the party faces the prospect of another political crisis, and its leaders have to find a way to avoid it.
In Missouri, Democratic Rep. Todd Akin’s defeat of Democratic Rep., Todd Akin, left Democrats in a precarious position.
With Akin’s loss, Republicans will control the Senate but not the House, and Republicans will need to control both chambers to advance legislation on healthcare, the debt ceiling and other pressing issues.
At stake is the future of the party’s long-held principles, and it’s unclear whether Democrats can make a dent in Republicans’ majority in the Senate if the party loses.
“We will probably need to get to a place where we’re not even as strong as we thought we were, and we’ll be a bit further behind, but I’m not concerned,” said Mike Pence, a vice president and former vice president under President Bill Clinton.
The party is still trying to figure out how to deal with a divided Congress.
Republican leaders in Congress have made clear they intend to pass legislation and push through legislation without the Democratic filibuster.
“What’s happened with the Senate is that it’s not a single party, it’s a collection of the president, the vice president, and other Republicans,” said Adam Green, the director of the Brookings Institution’s Center on Presidential Transition.
“The only way to have a functioning government is to have both parties in the House and Senate, and I think we’re headed toward that situation.”
Republicans will need a win in Kansas, a state that is a key battleground in the 2020 election.
A win for Democrats in Kansas could also help move the party to the left on healthcare and other key issues, and could help Republicans hold onto control of both chambers.
“We need to win a big state in Kansas to make a difference, but we need to also have a big win in 2018 and we have to be ready to govern if we win that,” Pence said.
“If we win Kansas, we win the majority in both chambers and we can pass legislation.
If we lose Kansas, then we lose the majority.”
Trump and the GOP have already lost control of statehouses in Georgia and South Carolina, but Republicans will be under even greater pressure to get back to their previous level of strength if the Democrats retake the Senate.
If the Democrats win the Senate and take the House in 2018, Republicans could also lose the Senate in 2020, and they could face a similar political crisis.
Akin, a Republican, won the election in the state’s sixth congressional district with a razor-thin margin, which has made him a favorite among GOP voters.
His victory, however, was not without controversy.
He was accused of saying women were capable of conceiving children if they had intercourse.
Akin later apologized and retracted the statement.
Democrats are still trying a different tack, and while the results are still unknown, they may be able to push for an overhaul of the district’s voting laws to help Republicans.
The issue has also dogged the White House, with several members of the Trump administration having to resign from their posts after admitting that they were wrong to use the word “birther” to describe Obama’s birthplace.
“We’re still figuring out what’s going to happen next, but if we get a win like that, we’re going to have to go to the next level,” Green said.
Democratic strategists are also worried that the party will have to face the prospect that it won’t be able afford to hold on to control of Congress in the face of a Republican wave in 2020.
The Senate, by definition, is the only place the president can actually make policy.
And Democrats would be losing a significant number of their members in 2020 if they lose control of either chamber, meaning they would have to win control of a new House.
“I don’t think we can afford to lose that seat,” Green added.
“You don’t lose your seat if you don’t get reelected, but you also don’t want to lose the seat in 2018.”