Republican Senatorial Candidates Surging While Obama and the Democrats are Stumbling
The map shows the 18 seats we consider to be in play, though realistically there are 13 states we are focused on with Hawaii, Massachusetts and Virginia most likely remaining blue; and Georgia and Kentucky (both just miss being rated Likely R) staying in Republican hands.
All 13 states of interest are currently held by Democrats; and we consider South Dakota and West Virginia virtual locks for the Republicans, with Montana also highly likely to go red even with the recent Walsh shenanigans.
Iowa and New Hampshire are Leaning D’s but Scott Brown’s entrée into the race against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen could quickly move The Granite State to a toss-up. We’ll be paying close attention to new polling since the previous “hypothetical match-up numbers” are not worthy of real consideration.
The remaining 8 states are considered toss-ups by PPR, and 5 of them are also considered toss-ups by at least one other major rating service (Cook, Sabato and Rothenberg). For the time being we remain bullish on our three “outliers” – Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon – and believe others may change their ratings post-primary in those states.
There is good news, at varying levels, for Republicans in all eight and; with the three likely blue-to-red converts mentioned above; the GOP only needs 3 of the PPR toss-ups to demote Harry Reid to Senate Minority Leader come January.
Alaska: Former state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan is now the clear front-runner for the GOP nod; and the only thing that prevents us from moving AK to Leans or even Likely R is Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller continuing on in the primary. Neither have a chance to beat Sullivan at this point. Either, especially Treadwell, or both dropping from the race would virtually ensure a Sullivan victory over Begich, who is showing all the signs of desperation.
Arkansas: Rep. Tom Cotton continues to get stronger and Sen. Mark Pryor continues to harm himself with his largely inept campaigning and recent “sense of entitlement” gaffe.
Colorado: With his entrance into the race, and his path cleanly paved to the nomination, Rep. Cory Gardner may be exactly the candidate to oust the vulnerable Sen. Mark Udall. First polling has the race within the margin of error, and Udall with 41% approval vs. 40% disapproval numbers, quite worrisome levels for an incumbent.
Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu continues to struggle with myriad issues and her approval numbers persist in the low 40’s. The biggest question down on the bayou is if Rep. Bill Cassidy can get to 50% in November to avoid a run-off in December; but either way Landrieu continues to be very vulnerable.
Michigan: Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has a battle on her hands for sure but she had slightly more cash on hand than Rep. Gary Peters at the end of 2013; and the national organizations are becoming more aggressive in their presence. Recent polling does give Peters a slight advantage but this is another case where the numbers are within the margin of error.
Minnesota: Businessman Mike McFadden has established himself as the GOP nominee-in-waiting; we’ve always considered Sen. Al Franken more vulnerable than others; and the national party is now getting actively involved in the race.
North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan is suffering from some of the malaise as her Louisiana counterpart; her polling numbers are anemic; and she is generally displaying significant ineptness as an incumbent candidate. If State House Speaker Thom Tillis can bump up his fund-raising and/or separate himself from the somewhat stumbling Greg Brannon (thus bringing some national money into his coffers) he may have what it takes to oust Hagan.
Oregon: This is one state where we fully expect others to change their ratings after the May 20 primary. We, however, remain energized by the campaign of Dr. Monica Wehby and believe she represents the rare Republican candidate with just the right mix to not just be competitive, but win in Oregon. Our first suggestion that Oregon could be in play was back in November and subsequent to our profile of Dr. Wehby she has garnered national attention from the New York Times, MSNBC, National Journal and others. In the recent past she’s campaigned in Oregon with Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Tom Coburn and just recently received the endorsement of the Oregon Farm Bureau, demonstrating the broad appeal she has with Oregonians.
While we’re not ready to call 2014 a wave election, there is much good news for Republicans; and with Obama’s approval rating continually underwater; and ObamaCare and the bumbling economy hanging around Democratic necks; it would not take much to get us there. It’s worth noting that the odds of a 53 seat majority are just above 50% and a 55 seat majority just under 40%.
If GOP candidates continue to take Brady Cremeen’s advice, here at Practical Politicking, from last week, and with numbers like those it would take just a handful of events in several toss-up states to start the swell growing and it’d be surf’s up.