Republicans’ final, 48-hour push to win the six seats they need to control the Senate began Sunday with good news in three southern states central to the GOP’s strategy.
New NBC News/Marist polls released on “Meet the Press” show Republicans leading in Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana — or poised to prevail in subsequent runoff elections. And in the pivotal Iowa Senate race, a Des Moines Register poll posted online Saturday night and blared across the front page in Sunday’s editions showed Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst with a 7-point lead over Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.Jonathan Martin reports at The New York Times:
In a sign of a worsening climate, Democratic officials shifted money to incumbents in once-safe districts around Las Vegas and Santa Barbara, Calif. And over the weekend, they put more money toward television ads in districts held by Democrats in Iowa and Minnesota, including that of longtime Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota. Though there are fewer competitive House seats than in past elections because of gerrymandering, party strategists were still airing ads in 40 districts.
“It’s a grim environment,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Mr. Israel was spending the weekend pleading with his caucus to contribute to imperiled colleagues to minimize losses. Trying to soften the blow, he noted that losses were expected: The party in control of the White House has lost an average of 29 seats in midterm elections in the last century.
Just two years after he won a second term by a commanding margin, Mr. Obama has kept his distance from the most pivotal congressional races. On Saturday, he was to address a heavily African-American crowd in Detroit to bolster Michigan’s Democratic nominee for governor.
Senate Republicans are confident. A senior party official called Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, on Saturday at his Louisville home and, after running through voting projections, told Mr. McConnell that he would be the next majority leader. Mr. McConnell’s initial reaction was only a long pause.Steve Holland reports at Reuters:
Obama's unpopularity has made him politically radioactive on the campaign trail. Democratic candidates have kept him at arm's length in competitive states where Senate control will be determined.
Instead, he has largely been restricted to Democratic fund-raising events, although in recent days he headlined events in friendly states such as Maine, Rhode Island and Michigan. On Sunday, he travels to Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
"I'm not on the ballot this time and this is the last election cycle in which I'm involved as president," said Obama, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, and to the White House in 2008 and 2012.
"Look, it makes you a little wistful, because I do like campaigning. It’s fun," he said in Portland, Maine, on Thursday night.
Although the White House publicly predicts Democrats will hold on to the Senate majority, people who have visited the West Wing recently say a grim mood has settled in.