The biggest beneficiaries of a noncompetitive 2016 primary for Hillary Clinton are the Democratic Senate candidates looking to reclaim their majority.
Democrats head into 2016 with a deep roster of campaign talent that earned valuable experience on President Obama's successful campaigns. But since there aren't expected to be many credible candidates running against Clinton—in sharp contrast to the GOP's deep field—skilled Democratic operatives have far fewer options when thinking about campaign employment. Many are expected to make their mark on a Senate race rather than fight for a prized job with Clinton's campaign.
"Offices of consultants like myself ... are filled with 23-year-old kids who are trying to figure out what the hell they're going to do," said Jef Pollock, president of the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group, adding that just that day he'd been on four calls with political staffers trying to figure out their 2016 job prospects. "What'll happen is ... the smaller races may very well be able to get higher-level talent than they might have [otherwise] been able to get because that person knows that they want to take something now."
The Senate map favors Democrats this cycle, as Republicans who rode into office on the tea-party wave of 2010—Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania—are facing reelection in a presidential-year electorate. In 2016, Republicans must defend 24 Senate seats—including five states that President Obama won twice—compared with just 10 seats for Democrats.