Do Dems Have Much More to Lose in This Election Than the GOP?

PHOTO: Bernie Sanders, left, makes a point as Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo
Bernie Sanders, left, makes a point as Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.

The storyline by many in the media goes as follows: the GOP is in dire straits, they are in the midst of tearing themselves apart by a civil war, they have a disorganized field of candidates, they are about to lose badly for president and are on the verge of disintegrating as a major party.

That is how a number of folks in the media (and many Democratic operatives/insiders) describe the circumstances of the GOP dilemma at hand and ahead. Some of this is true, and looks bad for the GOP, but some of it is just fiction. But let's take a moment to understand what party faces the biggest problems ahead in the aftermath of a loss in the presidential race next November.

Reasonable worst case scenario for the GOP: they lose the presidential race, lose control of the United States Senate by a few votes, lose a few seats in the House of Representatives but retain control, and retain a majority of governor's and state legislative bodies.

Reasonable best case scenario for the GOP: they win the presidential race, expand control of the Senate, retain control of the House, and expand majority of governor's and state legislative bodies.

Reasonable worst case scenario for the Dems: they lose the presidential race, lose seats in the Senate, don't gain control of the House, and lose more governor's and state legislative races.

Reasonable best case scenario for the Dems: they win the presidential race, gain control of the Senate by a slim margin, pick up a few seats in the House but don't control, and win a few governor's races and legislative seats.

So when you look at the various scenarios for the 2016 general election you reach the following conclusion: the upside for the GOP is much better than any upside for the Dems, and the downside for the Dems is much, much worse than any downside for the GOP.

And for the Dems, any positive election result is totally contingent on winning the presidential race, while if the GOP loses the presidential race they still control the House and have majority of governors and state legislative bodies. Today the GOP controls more than 30 governors offices and state legislatures.

If the Dems suffer their reasonable worse case scenario, the aftermath of the November 2016 elections will make what happened to the GOP in 2012 look like a tea party. They will control no power at the federal level, and be in minority throughout the 50 states as a whole. If the GOP needed to go through soul searching after 2012, then the Dems will go through the dark night of the soul as St. John of the Cross described many moons ago. The handwringing and interparty battles will be a site to behold. Fasten your seat belts if that worse case scenario happens to the Dems.

In addition, there are two competing dynamics happening simultaneously as we move into 2016. First, one dynamic says it will be very difficult for Democrats to win the presidency when you look at the current political environment: it rarely happens that one party wins the presidency three terms in a row (last time it happened was in 1988 with a popular incumbent president and voters satisfied with state of the United States), President Obama has an approval in the forties, two-thirds of America believe we are on the wrong track, and a majority want to see next administration not follow the policies of the current president. This says the Dems will have very hard time winning.

The second dynamic is demographics. America today is more progressive on social issues, more non-white, less married (thus more single), and less churched (more people today don't go to church regularly) than ever in modern times. This points to the direction that the GOP is going to have a difficult time winning the White House in 2016.

But someone has to win.

I can't hazard to guess what exactly the outcome of next November will be today, but it might be a time for us in the media to pause and consider that the Dems have much more to lose in this election than the GOP.

Matthew Dowd is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.