POLITICS
03/16/2014 12:08 pm ET | Updated Mar 17, 2014

Karl Rove Thinks GOP Senate Takeover Is 'Highly Likely'

GOP strategist Karl Rove thinks that a Republican Senate takeover is in the cards this November.

"With 14 seats in play on the Democratic side and a couple of seats in play potentially on the Republican side, I think it's highly likely that Republicans pick up the majority,” he said on "Fox News Sunday."

Rove identified seven potential pickup opportunities for the GOP in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, where Democratic senators are retiring, and in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, where Democratic incumbents face serious challenges. The Republicans need a net gain of six seats to retake the Senate.

He dismissed worries that tea party candidates might cost the GOP winnable races, as in 2012, when Republican Senate hopeful Todd Akin's numbers tanked after he said victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant.

"I think it's going very well. First of all, it's not about beating the tea party candidate, it's about keeping us from having Todd Akins," Rove said, adding, "So we've got to avoid situations like that, and if you take a look at the Republican candidates ... we have a very good cast of characters that are running."

Rove's track record of predictions isn't exactly perfect: On Election Day 2012, he forecast a Mitt Romney win fueled by victory in Ohio. In fact, Romney lost Ohio and the White House.

Some Democrats are also spinning a win for their party this November.

“I believe we will keep the Senate," White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We have great candidates with experience winning in tough states, and we're on the right side of the issues."

Pfeiffer acknowledged that the geography of the 2014 election could make that an uphill battle. "There's no question there is a tough map for Democrats," he said. "That's what happens when you win a lot of elections, like we did in 2008."

Democrats also traditionally lag Republicans in turnout for midterm elections, an issue that last week's special election for a Florida congressional seat suggests they have yet to resolve. Republican David Jolly won that race.

"Democrats have to do a better job at turning out in midterm elections," Pfeiffer said. "We're very good at presidential years and less good at midterms. And if more Democrats do not turn out, we will not do well."

Robert Gibbs, who served as White House press secretary in President Barack Obama's first term, was more bearish during the "Meet the Press" roundtable.

"There's no doubt" the Senate is in danger of flipping, Gibbs said. "[Republicans have] got to pick up six seats, which is not a small number, but what gives them a huge advantage is the states that they're in ... places that the president doesn't do well."

Nonpartisan political handicappers believe there's a real chance that Republicans will win those six seats.

A GOP takeover is not guaranteed, but it's "definitely in the realm of possibility," Jennifer Duffy of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report told The Week last Thursday.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a Senate candidate this year, had defended former Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments from 2012.

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