GOP majority in jeopardy
David Wasserman from the Cook Political Report tells us eight House seats’ ratings are moving in the Democrats’ direction: “In the past few days, multiple Democrats challengers have announced staggering fundraising totals of more than $3 million during the third quarter of the year, exceeding what many predecessors have raised for an entire cycle. One high-ranking Republican worries his party could be ‘buried under an avalanche’ of Democratic money that GOP outside groups can’t match.
“After today’s ratings changes, there are 15 GOP-held seats in Lean or Likely Democratic (including seven incumbents) and Democrats would only need to win 11 of the 31 races in the Toss Up column to flip the majority. There’s still time for political conditions to change, but today the likeliest outcome appears to be a Democratic gain of between 25 and 40 seats (they need 23 for House control).”
Keep in mind that in some states with multiple vulnerable Republicans, early voting is already underway. That includes New Jersey with four seats that are in the Toss Up category or worse for Republicans, and Illinois with two seats in the Toss Up column. On Oct. 8, early voting starts in California and Iowa, collectively with eight seats in the Toss Up category or worse for Republicans. On Oct. 10, Arizona, Indiana and Ohio begin early voting. In short, the time for Republicans to turn things around is already running down.
And what impact might the ongoing confirmation fight over Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh have on House races? Charles E. Cook Jr. argues convincingly that the Kavanaugh fight makes little to no difference when it comes to the House races. (“This cake is more or less baked. It’s not that every individual election outcome is set; that’s absurd, there are a lot of very close races,” he writes. “But for the trajectory of this midterm election to change, it would take a massive event that fundamentally changes how people see Trump and one or both political parties. That is unlikely to happen.”)
Over in the Senate, however, the Kavanaugh fight might have a real impact - but we don’t know in which direction. Cook writes: “I had been saying that we could see three-quarters of a billion dollars spent on Senate races this cycle with no net change whatsoever, but Jennifer Duffy, The Cook Political Report’s real expert on Senate races, says that $1 billion is closer to the mark.”
Republicans are pointing to favorable polling showing Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., ahead by double digits in North Dakota Senate race. Then again, another batch of favorable polling for Democrats landed this week. In Arizona, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is ahead by 3 points, 4.2 points in the RealClearPolitics poll average. No recent poll has Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., leading. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is leading narrowly; Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., is leading by a more comfortable margin. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., holds a low single-digit lead in the Nevada Senate race. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, remarkably has a race within the margin-of-error in multiple polls. The Senate races are so close one could imagine either side picking up net three.
In short, you can see why billionaire Michael Bloomberg just dropped $20 million into Senate races for Democratic candidates. At some point, both sides will realize money can be more effectively used in tight Senate races than in trying to eke out one or two House seats that are unlikely to determine majority control.