So, here at the Decision Desk, we’re always trying to figure out different ways to display information as compact and understandable as possible. There are one hundred Senators, two from each state, and typical displays shove them into a parallelogram or feature fancy rollovers. On a shoestring using GDocs, here’s a simpler way to lay every seat out:
Now, we can label each and every square with the Senator’s name, but the increasingly partisan nature of those races has shuffled most states into one camp or another, and Senate confirmations, when down to the wire, will typically see partisan unity among the President’s party members. For now, the color coding above will likely line up with most of President-elect Trump’s more controversial nominees. When a state has one conservative Republican and one liberal Democratic Senator, like Wisconsin, you don’t really have to ask “which one is Tammy Baldwin?”
After that quick recap of how we are displaying this guesstimate, onto the current stats. Republicans have a 52 seat majority in the U.S. Senate. Thanks to rule changes under Democraitic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid back in 2013, a simple majority is enough for Cabinet confirmation votes. Barring a dramatic turn of events, we expect nearly every nominee to be confirmed, the questions outstanding are: how many Democrats cross over and vote yea, how many Republicans defect and vote nay. Advocacy for school vouchers and charter schools have been platform positions of the Republican Party for years, so Betsy DeVos almost certainly gets all of their votes. What about the Senate overall?
Determining the Democratic opposition is easy when Senators make public declarations immediately after the hearings, as Cory Booker did today, rejecting Betsy DeVos. Others made the task easier because they rejected the candidate even before their colleagues started the grilling. Senators who have conflicted with Mrs. DeVos previously, or who come from states where teachers unions, strongly opposed to a Secretary DeVos, hold significant sway over the Democratic Party, fill in a lot of the not-public-but-pretty-obvious nays. You’ll note that there is a stronger inclination for nay among Democrats with this Cabinet position than with the Attorney General. Mrs. DeVos lacks the insulation offered with being a Senator, and as of yet has no public yeas from the minority party. Democratic Senators with no statements or other indicators on the DeVos nomination are left as undecided, but may pile onto the bandwagon and force close to a party-line vote.