Harry Reid

Reid says it is now ‘absolutely critical’ that Democrats hold onto the Senate in 2014. | Reuters

By ALEX ISENSTADT | 11/21/13 6:09 PM EST

Elections, as the saying goes, have consequences. And Thursday’s historic vote in the Senate to obliterate the filibuster for most presidential nominees makes Election 2014 that much more consequential.

With only 51 Senate votes – a simple majority – now needed to clear presidential nominees for cabinet posts and federal judges, the power of the majority has been significantly enhanced.

“There’s no question it’s going to make things more intense” in next year’s races, said Trent Lott, a former Mississippi senator and majority leader.

And while Democrats who’ve been encouraging Reid for years to push the nuclear button rejoiced, many of them acknowledged that it would increase the pressure on the party to retain its majority.

“Now that Senate Democrats have made this decision, it’s absolutely critical that we keep control of the Senate after the 2014 election,” said Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “What happened today reinforced the stakes that are at play.”

The battle for the Senate was already joined before Reid’s move, with party committees, outside groups, and candidates set to spend tens of millions of dollars. Democrats currently control 55 seats to the GOP’s 45 seats, though Republicans, appear well positioned to cut into the majority.

While Democrats are trying to snatch seats from Republicans in Kentucky and Georgia, Republicans are eyeing Democratic-held seats in more than a half dozen states.

Consider the stakes raised after Democrats invoked the so-called nuclear option.

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