Georgia and Nevada on their minds: Senate watchers sweat two swing states

Of course, Democrats would love to win Senate seats in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman has led in all recent public polls. And the Republicans dream of victories in Colorado and Washington.

Yet the Democrats’ most direct path to maintaining a majority still means bringing back the so-called Core Four battleground senators: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Catherine Cortez Masto of Snowfall. And while Hassan and Kelly are breathing a little easier these days, Cortez Masto and Warnock are sweating it out in extremely tight races. As Peters put it, “I feel more comfortable, or feel good, with the trajectory that we’re seeing in Arizona and New Hampshire.”

There is time for the political tide to turn before November, but the reality is that both parties have modest dreams right now. And Democrats have reason to worry if they can’t keep most of their four vulnerable incumbents.

Currently, a good Republican night would involve holding Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, while snagging Nevada and Georgia, a net change of two seats. A good Democratic night would mean no lost incumbents, plus changes in Pennsylvania and perhaps another state, giving the party enough votes to comfortably confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees.

Hassan and Kelly aren’t out of the woods yet, but both took advantage of the messy Republican primary to take a steady lead in the polls and benefit from the governors. Chris Sununu (RN.H.) and Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) approve the Senate nominations.

Republicans nominated former football star Herschel Walker from Georgia, a state where partisan polarization and athletic fame keep him afloat despite his flaws. And Nevada is returning to its swing-state status as it recovers from the crippling economic effect of the pandemic.

That makes Cortez Masto and Warnock the two incumbents whose campaigns are keeping Democrats awake.

“You’re climbing a hill if you’re a Democrat running in Georgia,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who expressed confidence in both Cortez Masto and Warnock.

Nevada’s Republican candidate, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, lost a gubernatorial race in 2018, but he has a powerful political legacy from his grandfather, the late Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.). Kaine observed that the name “Laxalt in Nevada is like Sununu in New Hampshire. Nevada is the only place where [Republicans] they got the candidate they wanted.”

Although the Democrats significantly outnumbered their foes on every Senate battleground, Laxalt and Walker are holding their ground. Recent polling shows that both Republicans locked in close races and even led at times, while Hassan and Kelly led every public poll in their states since the GOP nominated Don Bolduc and Blake Masters, respectively.

“Georgia is the most competitive battleground state in the country,” explained Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.). Warnock reached 50 percent in some recent public polls, but if neither candidate reaches a majority threshold on the November ballot, as was the case in the state’s 2020 Senate general and special elections, the race will go to a second round in December.

In Georgia, the Walker and Warnock campaigns acknowledge that there are few swing voters to win. So Peach State’s winning strategy is all about participation, while Nevada has more independents to compete for. Nevada ballots even have a “neither of these candidates” option that can affect the outcome of a close Senate race.

Cortez Masto argued that the state is not as blue as its reputation, despite the fact that Democrats have won the last two races for the state Senate and won it during the last four presidential elections.

“Nevada is always competitive,” he said. “It’s a changing state.”

In conversations with more than a dozen strategists and senators, members of both parties said Nevada and Georgia represent Republicans’ biggest chances to flip seats, while Pennsylvania is Democrats’ best bet for a rebound. New Hampshire will now be a tall order for the GOP, according to the consensus, and top Republicans also see changing Arizona as a pipe dream.

The New Hampshire Republican Party nominated Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general, even though Republican hopefuls spent millions of dollars to stop him. Fergus Cullen, the former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman who supported state Senate President Chuck Morse in the primary, said Bolduc lacks the skills or field operation to run a competitive general election campaign.

At the end of August, Bolduc had less than $84,000 in cash on hand, compared to Hassan’s $7.3 million.

“Nothing has changed to suggest that pre-primary concerns were invalid,” Cullen said of Bolduc’s history of blunders and controversial positions. “The Democrats can’t put this in the bag yet, but they should be breathing a huge sigh of relief.”

Bolduc spokeswoman Kate Constantini said he has been “underestimated by pundits and critics and yet won his primary without spending a dime on television advertising”.

The Senate’s main Republican super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, has kept its $23 million committed to the state. However, Hassan has a significant early lead in the first public general election polls, and Bolduc quickly retracted his earlier endorsement of false claims of voter fraud about the 2020 election and his support for privatizing Medicare and Homeland Security. Social. However, Republicans say they are staying.

“We see a path to victory, but don’t take our word for it: National Democrats are pouring millions into New Hampshire during the month of October,” said SLF spokesman Jack Pandol.

Hassan and his allies, in particular, still insist the race is not over.

In Arizona, Republican Blake Masters trails Kari Lake, the state’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, who has spent less on her campaign than he has. Members of both parties say Masters is hurt by the talk about the state’s abortion ban.

On Thursday, Kelly released a new announcement about Masters’ support for abortion restrictions, one of several Democratic ads about his stance on the issue. In an interview, Kelly said voters “realize this is what my opponent wants: an abortion ban with no exceptions.”

A Masters spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Before winning the primary, he advocated for a federal anti-abortion “personality law,” but has since sought to soften his stance while still accepting a proposed 15-week national ban.

Since then, the Senate GOP’s main super PAC has pulled all of its scheduled ads from Arizona. Other outside Republican spending groups raised money to keep him in the air in recent weeks, but he likely needs a substantial funding source by October to have a chance to remain competitive, according to a Republican with knowledge of the race.

Another person with knowledge of a recent Arizona Republican internal poll found Masters’ favorability rating lower than Roy Moore’s in 2017 when the Alabama Senate candidate imploded amid reports of past sexual misconduct, including the romantic pursuit of minors.

Three Republicans involved in the national races said the party’s chances of unseating Kelly are comparable to Republican victories in blue Colorado or Washington. The party’s candidates in those states raised a significant amount of money in an effort to unseat Democratic incumbents with tepid approval ratings, and they’re still at a disadvantage.