Evan Bayh

I’ve been skeptical about the possibility of the Democratic Party taking over the Senate this year, mainly because throughout my adult life I’ve seen Democrats overperform in pre-election polls and underperform at the ballot box. But the recent entrance of Evan Bayh into the Senate race in Indiana is giving me hope.

Not that I like Bayh. He’s the kind of Liebermannish Democrat who spent his last years in the Senate watering down progressive legislation. But I recognize that the only kind of Democrat who can win in Indiana is one who acts like a Republican on some issues. Better a moderately conservative Democrat than a Tea Party Republican.

It is, in fact, Bayh’s opportunistic assholishness that’s making me slightly optimistic. He’s a shrewd guy and wouldn’t be muscling his way into the race if he didn’t think there was a decent chance that

  1. He will win.
  2. The Democrats will take the Senate with a slim majority.

It’s the second item that’s key. If the Democrats remain in the minority, Bayh will have no power. But if they eke out a majority, the caucus will need every single vote on every bill, and as one of its most conservative members, he’ll have outsized influence. The leadership will have to consult with him to make sure he’s on board as bills get drafted. The Sunday shows will have him on to discuss his deeply held beliefs and the agonizing decisions he has to make as the Last Great Moderate. It’ll be disgusting.

But not as disgusting as Mitch McConnell as majority leader.