These five races determine the majority of the Senate
The battle for the Senate is anyone’s ball game with only a week to go until voters head to the polls.
The Republicans, who need to retain only one seat, are knocking on the door as the national environment moves more and more in their direction and some polls show them in the lead in both Georgia and Nevada. According to FiveThirtyEight’s latest projections, the fight for the majority is a “dead heat,” turning the last few days into an all-out sprint to get voters to the polls.
Here are five races that will determine the Senate majority.
Of the five states on this list, Democrats still have the best chance of keeping Sen. Mark Kelly’s seat, although Republican Blake Masters has closed the gap in recent weeks.
Kelly, long considered one of the top Democratic Senate candidates for re-election, has held a sizable lead over Masters for nearly two months after the GOP nominee emerged from the early August primaries. Much of this was thanks to the onslaught of advertising as a result of the Democrats’ fundraising operation.
But the script has changed in recent weeks, with the Masters cutting Kelly’s lead to close to the margin of error in most polls. Most of this is due to two reasons, according to strategists: the natural narrowness of the race in a swing state, and the impact of the presence of the Republican Kari Lake at the top of the ticket.
“I think Kelly is swinging, but it’s a lot tighter than anybody wanted,” said one Democratic operative involved in the Senate races.
An Arizona-based GOP operative told The Hill that a New York Times-Siena poll out Monday is “realistic,” but added that a 2- to 3-point undercount for Masters at this point is entirely plausible, with Lake. being the driving force of a possible upheaval.
“There’s definitely a strategy of Lake and Masters working together,” the strategist said. “It’s trying to pull the whole team across the finish line.”
According to the latter RealClearPolitics media, Lake leads Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) by 3.8 percentage points. In the same way, Kelly tops the Masters by 2.4 percentage points.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) once appeared to have a distinct advantage over his Republican opponent Herschel Walker, a former NFL star and first-time candidate who has faced a host of personal and professional controversies over the course of his Senate. countryside
Perhaps one of the most shocking revelations about Walker came early last month when the Daily Beast published a story detailing allegations that Walker had paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009.
But Walker did not take much success in the polls. He hammered Warnock repeatedly over perceived rising crime and lingering economic concerns, while largely dismissing the allegations as lies. In turn, he narrowed his voting gap with Warnock, who now leads the race by just over 1 percentage point, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average.
“The fact of the matter is, he’s as fired as I’ve ever seen him,” said Chuck Clay, a former state senator and chairman of the Georgia GOP. “Unless there’s another horror story lurking that we don’t know about, I think it’s been pretty well raked over the coals.”
What makes the race between Warnocok and Walker particularly volatile is the fact that Georgia is one of two states where candidates are required to receive more than 50 percent of the vote to win their election. And so far, neither Warnock nor Walker have reached this threshold.
“Perhaps [Walker’s] not 50 percent, but it doesn’t seem like all the negatives have had a significant impact,” Clay said. “It all comes down to that final 2 or 3 percent of people who are still on the fence.”
Of all the Senate Democrats locked in an increasingly tight re-election bid, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) might be the most vulnerable.
Even in the brightest days of the Democratic campaign, he never held the kind of clear advantage over his Republican rival, former state attorney general Adam Laxalt, that the other Democrats in the battleground they have A new poll by the New York Times and Siena College published Monday found Cortez Masto and Laxalt tied at 47 percent each.
Nevada poses a series of challenges for both parties. On the one hand, Democrats have been on a winning streak in the state in recent years, culminating in the ouster of former Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in 2018 and President Biden’s victory there two years later.
On the other hand, the Republicans’ improving margins among Latino voters could crush a base of support that the Democrats have long relied on to propel their victories in Nevada. The state also has a transient population that makes it particularly difficult to define politically.
“I think, in many ways, Nevada has been a little difficult to get hold of,” said a Democratic strategist who has worked on Senate campaigns. “It’s kind of a tipping point for a lot of the currents and trends that we’ve seen.”
The wind is firmly at Mehmet Oz’s back in the final week of the campaign, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough for him to defeat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) next week.
The trend lines are clearly in Oz’s favor at this stage. His constant attacks on crime have resonated with voters for months and he was the beneficiary of Fetterman’s continued struggles during last week’s debate over his stroke.
However, Oz’s momentum in the final stages depends on whether he can oust enough supporters of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in the gubernatorial race, particularly in the Philadelphia suburbs. Shapiro is considered the heavy favorite against state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) to replace Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who is term-limited.
“This crossover group in a really tight race could have an impact,” said Chris Borick, a professor of political science at Muhlenberg College, who introduced Oz’s recent message. “It’s ‘beat Fetterman and sell you as a moderate.'” He’s not talking about Trump. He’s not talking about partisan lightning rods like Mastrian.
“It’s an appeal,” Borick continued. “His statement to those people is that he is fine. That he is not radical.”
Fetterman still leads by 1.5 percentage points, according to the latest RealClearPolitics media of surveys.
No matter who emerges victorious, the winner is likely to win by a slim margin, increasing the likelihood that a winner will not be known on election night and that it could take days to determine who will be the next senator. Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) he said last week that full results could “take at least a few days.”
“If it’s a close election, we’re going down a very dangerous rabbit hole again where the legitimacy of the election is called into question,” a GOP operative in Pennsylvania told The Hill. “When you see other states doing these things at the same time, it makes you question why Pennsylvania isn’t able to do it.”
Despite facing a tough political environment in 2022 overall, Democrats have been eyeing Wisconsin anxiously, believing voters could be persuaded to oust their controversy-prone Republican incumbent, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
They nominated Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D-Wis.) for the job after a long and occasionally bitter primary campaign. And while early polls suggested Johnson was in danger, Barnes has also struggled to get his candidacy out of the general election, opening himself up to weeks of attacks that cast him as a “radical leftist”.
Democrats poured money into the race in its final weeks, hoping to give Barnes a last-minute boost. Former President Obama, still one of the country’s most popular Democrats, swept Wisconsin over the weekend in an effort to salvage his party’s chances there.
And to be sure, the race remains close, with Johnson holding a 3.4-point lead over Barnes in FiveThirtyEight’s running average. However, Republicans argue that Barnes’ prospects were overestimated and that Democrats underestimated Johnson’s strength.
Doug Heye, a Republican strategist, took on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who earlier this year downplayed his party’s prospects of winning the Senate because of the “quality of the candidates”.
“Some people have tried to give McConnell fault for saying that the quality of the candidates matters. But it matters on the Democratic side, too,” Heye said. “That’s part of why Mandela Barnes was such a disappointment.”
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