Why Republicans failed to take back the Senate

Republican strategist Trey Hardin, however, placed the blame on the GOP’s Election Day debacle elsewhere.

“One name: Olympia Snowe. Her leaving made the Republican Senate candidates look bad,” he said.

Republicans did get a curveball last spring when, citing the intense partisanship in Congress, the moderate Maine Senator announced that she would be retiring after her term in office ended. Her replacement in the Senate, independent former Gov. Angus King, is widely expected to caucus with Democrats.

But the blame cannot be placed on a select few people, Galen cautioned, noting that each race had its own idiosyncrasies.

In some states, he noted, the Obama team’s ground game helped “some people over the line.” He pointed to Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin’s new Democratic senator.

In Ohio, the Republican candidate Josh Mandel was a tea party favorite. He was also a young, inexperienced politician going up against “a very wily veteran senator in Sherrod Brown,” who “knows how to campaign and knows how to campaign hard.”

In Virginia, David Shepherd, a Republican Virginia blogger, said that Obama’s victory in the state helped Democrat Tim Kaine prevail over former GOP Sen. George Allen.

“Allen really was tied to Romney,” he said.

However, Allen also struggled in northern parts of the state, which have become increasingly Democratic in recent years.

“As much as I love George, I think he is done,” Shepherd said. “He just doesn’t play well enough in Northern Virginia.”

Across the board, Republicans nominated “flawed candidates” who simply weren’t as popular as the Democrat they were running against, according to Democratic strategist Ed Peavy. This gave Democrats an advantage in states where they would otherwise be more vulnerable.

He pointed to North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp as an example. Heitkamp leads Republican Rep. Rick Berg by just under 4,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting. The race has not been officially called for either candidate, and Berg has announced he will not concede until all of the votes have been canvassed to ensure a fair tally.

“Heitkamp was very popular and had very good numbers for anyone — particularly a Democrat in North Dakota. And Berg didn’t. Berg had really bad numbers from the start,” Peavy said.

Coupled with Romney’s defeat, Republicans appear to be entering a period of soul-searching.

Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, put out a statement congratulating Republicans who did win while acknowledging that Tuesday was a bad night for the party.

“[I]t’s clear that with our losses in the Presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party,” Cornyn said. “While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead.”

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