As Republicans stumble – could Democrats really hold on to the Senate? | Democrats
As Republicans stumble – could Democrats really hold on to the Senate? | Democrats

Things appear to be looking up for Democratic Senate candidates.

As recently as a few months ago, Republicans were widely viewed as the favorites to take control of the Senate after the crucial US midterm elections this November. Given the current 50-50 split, Republicans only need to flip one seat to regain the majority in the upper chamber.

But now, the nomination of several controversial Republican candidates and a recent string of Democratic legislative victories have many election forecasters reconsidering their predictions. Democrats appear better positioned to keep the Senate now than at any other point of this election cycle, although experts emphasize that the outlook could significantly shift again before November.

Democrats have the benefit of a favorable Senate map this year, as they are not defending any seats in states carried by Donald Trump in 2020.

Democrats’ prospects have also been aided by Republicans’ failure to recruit top candidates in several states, including incumbent governors Doug Ducey of Arizona and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire. Instead, vulnerable Republicans were able to secure nominations in a number of key battleground states, often with the help of Trump’s endorsement.

In Georgia, former professional football player Herschel Walker has attracted scandal for failing to acknowledge the existence of two secret children and abusing his ex-wife. Walker has acknowledged the abuse, saying he was suffering from mental illness at the time.

In Pennsylvania, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz has alienated voters because of his past dubious health claims and his longtime residency in New Jersey before deciding to run for office.

In Ohio, author JD Vance has struggled to gain his footing, most recently being criticized because his now-shuttered non-profit dedicated to combating opioid addiction promoted the work of a doctor with ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

As Republican candidates have stumbled, Democrats have enjoyed a wave of wins on Capitol Hill.

Last week, Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping spending package that includes hundreds of billions of dollars in investments aimed at reducing the country’s planet-heating emissions and lowering Americans’ healthcare costs.

The supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, ending the federal right to abortion access, appears to be driving voters to the polls as well. On Tuesday, Democrat Pat Ryan won a hotly contested special congressional race in New York after running a campaign focused on protecting abortion rights.

Mehmet Oz, who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania.
Mehmet Oz, who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania. Photograph: Joseph Kaczmarek/Rex/Shutterstock

Republican Senate candidates have indicated that abortion rights could be a weakness for them in the November elections. Blake Masters, who is running against Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona, altered his campaign website this week to delete some language expressing support for severe abortion restrictions.

All of those developments seem to be resonating in several key Senate races. According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats have pulled slightly ahead in Ohio and Georgia, while the party’s candidates in Pennsylvania and Arizona have opened larger leads of eight to nine points.

“Retirements, recruitment failures and vicious primaries – coupled with Trump’s endorsements – have left Republicans with a roster of flawed and deeply damaged candidates, while Democrats are running strong, battle-tested incumbents and challengers who are backed by their own unique coalition of voters,” Christie Roberts, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a memo late last month.

Even senior Republicans have acknowledged that the tide has turned against them in the battle for the Senate. The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said on Monday that the party’s chances of regaining control of the chamber were “50-50”.

“We’ve got a 50-50 Senate right now. We’ve got a 50-50 nation,” McConnell said at a business luncheon in Kentucky. “And I think the outcome is likely to be very, very close either way.”

Election forecasters have similarly picked up on this shift in momentum. FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model now says that Democrats are slightly favored to maintain control of the Senate, while the Cook Political Report updated its Senate prediction to “toss-up” last week.

“I would have said, before primaries began in earnest at the start of May, that Republicans had at least a 60% shot of flipping Senate control,” said Jessica Taylor, Cook’s Senate and governors editor. “We now see it as a pure toss-up, and I can see anywhere between Democrats picking up one seat to Republicans picking up three.”

Democrats are not throwing away this new advantage, instead making a point to highlight their opponents’ weaknesses. One anti-Trump group aired an ad featuring Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, describing how he once held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her.

The Ohio Democratic Party bought the abandoned website of Vance’s defunct non-profit, adding a greeting to the homepage reading, “This site no longer exists because JD Vance is a fraud.”

Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania has gone to increasingly humorous lengths to troll his opponent. At one point, Fetterman’s campaign circulated a petition calling for Oz to be inducted into New Jersey’s Hall of Fame. Fetterman has even gone so far as to enlist the help of celebrities like Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, from the reality television show Jersey Shore, to film ads encouraging Oz to come home to New Jersey.

Senate Democratic candidates have also enjoyed somewhat of a cash advantage in recent months. The DSCC reported a $10m haul in July, marking the fourth month in a row that the group outraised its counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The NRSC recently cut its ad buys in three battleground states, sparking questions about potential financial difficulties, although the committee fiercely pushed back against that speculation.

“We’ve invested in building our grassroots fundraising program, which has paid dividends this cycle and will benefit the NRSC and the party as a whole for cycles to come,” Chris Hartline, the NRSC’s communications director, said Monday. “We work closely with every one of our campaigns and will continue to do so.”

But even if Democrats do manage to keep control of the Senate, Republicans are still favored to take back the House, partly because of their success in redistricting. If Congress is divided after the midterms, Democrats will face severe hurdles in trying to advance their legislative agenda.

“Under that scenario, I expect [House] Republicans to overreach week in and week out, passing one form of extreme legislation after another when they’re not trying to investigate the Biden administration. All of which is going to die a quick, painful death in the Senate,” said Jim Manley, who served as a senior adviser to Harry Reid, the late Senate Democratic leader.

Although it may be difficult to pass bills, a Democratic Senate majority could still reap significant rewards for Biden, particularly when it comes to presidential nominations. If another supreme court seat opens up between now and 2024, a Democratic Senate would help Biden add another liberal justice to the bench.

“While there might not be much of a chance for legislating because the House will be dominated by extremists, it doesn’t mean nothing can get done,” Manley said. “Maybe there’s going to be a chance or two to try and work on a bipartisan basis after some negotiation, but the Senate I think would spend most of their time under such a scenario confirming judicial nominees.”

Although things are looking up for Democrats now, experts caution that November is still a political eternity away, and Republicans have historical trends working in their favor. The president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections, and Biden’s approval rating has now been underwater for roughly a year, which could be enough for Republicans to flip the Senate.

“While things are better for Democrats, it could swing back. This could just be a blip on the radar. I would not be shocked if that’s the case and we sort of returned to a midterm stasis, where the party out of power has the momentum,” Taylor said. “But even if Democrats can cut into that some, it could mean keeping the Senate.”



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.