Among the themes of second-guessing and deep regret that are emerging of rubble of last night's election is the thought that the Senate could be under the control of Republicans right now if weren't for their habit of running supremely unlikable candidates. It was bad enough that Mitt Romney was soundly defeated for the White House, but what hurts even more right now is that Republicans, who at one point had hoped for a sweep of both houses of Congress, actually lost ground in the upper chamber. Depending on your definition of a poachable, that makes as many seven races over the last two election cycles that could have been theirs for the taking.
In all seven of those seats, of course, a weak or unknown Democrat faced a polarizing, inexperienced candidate, who often owed their success to forces beyond the control of the central party leadership. Two of those seats are pinned on the same person—Linda McMahon—who has now lost two Connecticut Senate races after spending nearly $100,000,000 of her own money to knock off the establishment choice in the primary. Two years ago, Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell were boosted by the Tea Party, only to face embarrassing defeats in the general election. Then there's Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who couldn't keep their mouths shut about rape. That doesn't even count Scott Brown in Massachusetts or Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, decent candidates who failed to hold their ground in more Democratic areas.