Election 2018: Senate Seats Shifting
Election 2018: Senate Seats Shifting
New poll numbers are out, and for right now, there is some good news for Republican races in the Senate. There’s still three weeks to go before the general election, so nothing is set in stone, but these numbers are good signs.
In the biggest news, the Senate race in North Dakota has shifted from “toss up” to “leans GOP.” If you’re keeping score at home, that is Heidi Heitkamp’s current seat – which means that this is a big deal, because it would mean a pickup for Republicans in the Senate. Heitkamp, if you recall, was one of the senators who was seen as a swing vote for Justice Kavanaugh, but she made the decision to vote with the Democrat bloc in the Senate against him, and had to know that it might cost her the Senate seat.
And so, Friday, Heitkamp trekked the 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Fargo, past fields of October snow, to Gwinner, population 900, and the Bobcat Company plant where about 1,200 employees make loaders and excavators that are shipped around the world.
Near the employee entrance during the 3 p.m. shift change, Heitkamp shook hands and spoke briefly to workers as they passed, mostly men. One said to her, “I would shake your hand but I could be accused of sexual harassment and that could be enough to convict somebody. Right? Right?” Heitkamp smiled without answering.
She later told the AP that the response to her vote had been decidedly positive from plant workers. Heitkamp had said, including in an ad she aired explaining her vote, that she questioned Kavanaugh’s truthfulness and found his testimony to be angry and political.
Even the local press has noticed, and when the local media is throwing in the towel, you can pretty much ignore most of what the national media says. Again, can’t count the chickens until they hatch on Election Day, but North Dakota is looking extremely promising.
Speaking of the national media crushing on Democrat candidates, ABC News is still carrying a torch for Beto “Kennedy” O’Rourke in Texas.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 14, 2018
Beto O’Rourke’s response to a question during a Houston town hall meeting this past summer lasted only four minutes. But for some Democrats it said everything. It was authentic.
In an exchange that quickly went viral, the Democrat congressman and Senate hopeful was asked whether he found NFL players who knelt during the national anthem to be disrespectful. A passionate O’Rourke told the room of Texans, not necessarily a sympathetic crowd, that he could “think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights.”
Clips of his answer were viewed millions of times online, generating buzz in O’Rourke’s uphill battle against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
For national Democrats, it was the type of moment that epitomized a common buzzword in Democratic circles — “authenticity” — and the push to present candidates in a more open, unvarnished manner offering a window to their values.
Stop it, ABC, you’re not going to make Beto a Thing.
Isn't that an white guy pretending to be Hispanic who has raised the bulk of his money from out of state? https://t.co/Rw1DHELZvX
— SpaceRacer423 (@SpaceRacer423) October 14, 2018
And you know what agrees? The poll numbers. Cruz is now leading Beto beyond a statistical tie, and that race has also moved from “toss-up” to “leans GOP.” As Ted Cruz is a Victory Girls favorite, we are both excited and optimistic that he will continue to be a voice of reason on the right and in the Senate for another term.
But even though Beto is in the midst of being on the brink of potentially losing, he’s still got loads of cash. That does not make some Democrat strategists very happy.
“It’s great that O’Rourke has inspired so many people and raised so much money, and if he can spend it all effectively in Texas, he is well within his rights to do so,” said Matthew Miller, a veteran Democratic strategist and Texas native. “But he could have a huge impact for the party by sharing some of it with the D.S.C.C. so it could be spent in states where candidates just need a little extra to get over the hump.
“It will be bad for everyone, Beto included, if he finishes his race with money in the bank when that money could’ve helped elect Democrats in Missouri, Tennessee or North Dakota,” Mr. Miller added.
Aggravating Democrats further are reports that Mr. O’Rourke — not through any direction of his own — is receiving money from grass-roots supporters in states that also have competitive races. This has included word of an upcoming O’Rourke fund-raiser in Missouri, where Senator Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democrat, is straining to survive a challenge from Josh Hawley, the state’s Republican attorney general.
McCaskill’s Senate seat is listed at the moment as a “toss-up.” She could very well lose her seat – which would be another pickup for the GOP – and the poll numbers are certainly not trending in her favor.
The new poll numbers also say that despite getting the coveted Taylor Swift endorsement, Phil Bredesen is taking a nosedive in Tennessee. Marsha Blackburn is now leading Bredesen by 14 points in the most recent poll, which now shifts the Tennessee Senate seat (currently held by Republican Bob Corker) from “toss-up” to “leans GOP.”
Tennessee Senate, final: Blackburn 54, Bredesen 40 https://t.co/n84rWk4cQq
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) October 12, 2018
Hmmm, I wonder if that Project Veritas undercover video had anything to do with Bredesen’s new poll numbers? We’ll never know for sure, but this is the first major poll result after that video and the Taylor Swift comments. And again, while things could still change, it’s not looking good for Bredesen at the moment.
This midterm election season reflects a new political reality, which is that in the age of Trump, nothing is a given anymore. What historically would be a chance for the party not in the White House to make some major gains in Congress, is looking more problematic for Democrats with each poll. The Kavanaugh confirmation battle awoke Republican voters and eliminated the “enthusiasm gap” that the Democrats were counting on for their “blue wave.” There are still a lot of places where the Democrats could gain ground – particularly in the House and in gubernatorial races. But for the moment, at least, the Senate is looking to actually solidify the Republican majority.
Featured image via Pixabay