The GOP leads in states with 2014 Senate races. Here’s what that means.


Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). (Zach Frailey/AP)

A new Washington Post-ABC poll includes what would appear to be a huge finding for Republicans' quest to regain control of the Senate.

While the generic ballot (would you vote for a Republican or Democrat?) is very close nationally, the GOP holds a significant 50 percent to 42 percent margin in only the 34 states holding Senate contests in 2014.

That stat is certainly encouraging for the GOP's hopes to win six seats and the Senate majority -- a goal that appears increasingly achievable.

But it probably says more about the states themselves than any national GOP momentum.

Basically, these 34 states are much more favorable terrain for Republicans than the rest of the country. According to a Fix review, while President Obama won the national popular vote by about four points, Mitt Romney won in just these 34 states by about two points -- a six-point difference.

Of the 14 states with GOP senators up for reelection, 12 of them went for Romney by double digits -- very safe territory. And the GOP candidate won all but one of them. These states are skewing the results.

Democrats, meanwhile, are defending seven seats that went red in the 2012 presidential race. And the "safe" seats that Democrats are defending are much less safe than the "safe" seats Republicans are defending.

In other words, even in a neutral environment, the GOP should, by all rights, hold an edge in these 34 states.

Here's where the good news comes in for the GOP:

1) These numbers reinforce the fantastic and friendly map they have. And they suggest the GOP doesn't necessarily need a big "wave" election to take back the Senate.

2) Democrats often hold an edge on the generic ballot -- even in a neutral environment -- so the fact that the GOP leads this big in these states suggests they've got a good chance at reclaiming the Senate.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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