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Republicans are riding the optimistic wave of the last week of campaigning, with all eyes on the fight for control of the Senate



CNN

Republicans are riding a wave of optimism in the final week of the fall campaign, eyeing seats far deeper on Democratic ground than party leaders imagined just weeks ago, with confidence escalation of the GOP in securing a strong majority in the House amid signs that critical Senate seats are also increasingly within their reach.

Democratic House candidates in competitive seats from California to Connecticut are scrambling to battle a torrent of voter discontent over the economy, inflation and crime that could upend the balance of power for the second half of the first term of President Joe Biden.

If the divisive midterm election ends in a referendum on Biden’s agenda — rather than a stark contrast to Republican policies and posturing — Democrats brace for the prospect of a deadly Election Day that could reshape the political order in Washington.

The president, who is due to campaign this week away from most of the Senate’s biggest battlegrounds given his lukewarm approval ratings, implored Americans to weigh their options carefully and think about what Republican control would mean. of the House, and potentially of the Senate.

“It’s a fundamental choice,” Biden said after voting early this weekend in Delaware. “A choice between two very different visions for the country.”

The question is whether even some of the very voters who backed Biden two years ago are still open to hearing his message.

To amplify the point and in hopes of motivating their supporters, Democrats are turning to former President Barack Obama, who delivered a pointed closing argument during weekend stops in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. .

“Inflation is a real problem right now,” Obama said, noting the economic challenges around the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The question you should be asking yourself is, who is actually going to do something about this? Republicans talk about it a lot, but what is their response?

With Republicans in a strong position to win the House — an outcome the White House has quietly begun to prepare for — the battle for control of the Senate is the burning focal point of the final eight days of the race.

Democratic incumbents in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada are on the defensive in extremely tight contests with their GOP challengers, while Republicans feel much more optimistic about defending an open seat in Pennsylvania and retaining the Wisconsin and an open headquarters in North Carolina. The GOP needs a net gain of just one seat to win a majority.

“This is our year,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee, told CNN on Sunday, predicting his party would win “more than 52” seats.

One of the biggest uncertainties looming on several of these key battlegrounds, party officials and strategists told CNN, is whether voters are in the mood for split-ticket verdicts in contests for Governor and Senate or whether the top tails of the ticket might pull candidates over the finish line.

In Georgia, GOP optimism in Herschel Walker’s Senate bid is bolstered by the strength of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s re-election bid. The Senate race with Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock will be decided by a runoff on December 6 if neither candidate exceeds 50% of the vote next week.

In Ohio, party officials say they are much less nervous about JD Vance and his campaign with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan because Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has maintained a solid lead in his bid for a second term.

In Arizona, party officials acknowledge that Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters would not be locked in a tight race with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly if GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake does not pull conservatives in her strong campaign against Democrat Katie Hobbs.

A primary case study takes place in Pennsylvania, where Josh Shapiro, the state’s Democratic gubernatorial attorney general, is dominant in his race against Republican Doug Mastriano, whose candidacy was virtually dropped by the GOP leaders.

Whether Shapiro can lift Democrat John Fetterman’s candidacy for the Senate — or whether voters decide to cross party lines and support Republican Mehmet Oz — will be among the most anticipated questions on election night. In the general election, Oz sought to run as a moderate, a clear pivot after winning the primary with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

“Washington continues to err on the side of extreme positions,” Oz said during a debate last week, pledging to bring civility and compromise to the Senate as Fetterman attempts to portray his rival as extreme, particularly on the issue. ‘abortion.

While these are among the most watched Senate contests, a sour political environment has left almost no Democratic senator on the ballot immune to vigorous challenges from Republicans. The senses. From Patty Murray in Washington to Michael Bennet in Colorado to Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, even holders of a second tier of competitive racing are battling races much tougher than they bargained for a while ago. year.

Top Democratic leaders don’t dispute the claim that tough economic headwinds are blowing through their party, but they say voters will still be driven by calls to protect abortion rights in the wake of the court ruling. Supreme in late June nullifying Roe vs. Wade.

Protecting democracy also remains a galvanizing argument for some voters, with so many prominent GOP candidates promoting denials and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election results.

For Biden, who is due to travel to Florida, New Mexico, Maryland and Pennsylvania this week, the Nov. 8 election marks the 50th anniversary of his first Senate victory in Delaware. Since 1972, he’s had a front-row seat to the ups and downs of Election Day, which, according to history, is almost always mean to the ruling party.

Since World War II, the president’s party has lost an average of 28 House seats in a president’s first midterm election, according to the US Presidency Draft. With Democrats holding just five seats in the House, even going against the tide of history could mean losing control of the chamber.

In the first national campaign since Trump tried to undo his 2020 defeat and inspired baseless questions about election integrity, the question of how much history is still a reliable guide remains open.

With nearly 21 million Americans having already voted in 46 states, Democrats in the White House and Congress admit their urgent burden is trying to change the trajectory of the race over the past eight days in hopes of slowing the Republican momentum.

As he spelled out the election stakes in a Friday night speech in Philadelphia, the president didn’t mince words, saying, “It’s going to shape what this country will look like for the next decade or more – no joke. .”


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