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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Democratic Senate Prospects

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.

Sahil Kapur at NBC:
Trump's struggles in historically Republican states, like Arizona and Georgia, are creating collateral damage for his party's Senate candidates. Public skepticism of Trump's handling of the pandemic, and a Biden's expanding lead since the nationwide backlash to George Floyd's death, has put many GOP Senate candidates in a difficult position. They're forced to navigate a polarizing president whose ardent supporters they cannot afford to alienate and whose skeptics they'll likely need to attract to win.
Democrats currently have 47 seats — four short of an outright majority and three shy of a controlling number should Biden win as his vice president could cast any tie-breaking votes. They’re more likely than not to lose one seat in Alabama, held by Sen. Doug Jones, but have lots of pickup opportunities. GOP-held seats in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina are rated “toss up” by the Cook Political Report.
Republicans are defending another five seats — in Iowa, Kansas, Montana and two in Georgia — that are in play but lean GOP, while Democrats are defending a seat in Michigan, where they’re favored. Of the 11 most competitive seats, Republicans are defending nine and Democrats two.
Alex Thompson and James Arkin at Politico:
The left wing has been wiped out in Senate primaries or failed to recruit at all in states across the map this year, leaving a slate of centrist candidates more in the ideological mold of Joe Biden than Bernie Sanders. Liberal insurgents on the ballot over the coming weeks in states like Kentucky and Colorado aren't favored to fare any better, failing to gain significant traction thus far against more moderate favorites.
...

The failure of left-wing candidates in their primaries has prompted soul-searching among many progressive leaders who now believe that they neglected the task of organizing and building a downballot bench as they were caught up in the thrall of Sanders’ candidacy. It is also a victory for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who recruited most of the primary victors, viewing them as more likely to win general elections.
“We have seen that the left doesn’t really have the coordinated infrastructure to compete on a statewide level,” acknowledged Evan Weber, the co-founder and political director of the climate group Sunrise Movement, which is backing underdog candidates in Senate primaries this month in Kentucky and Colorado.
“Schumer works really hard to get a candidate and then effectively pushes others to coalesce behind them,” said Sean McElwee, the co-founder of the progressive think tank Data for Progress.... “Everyone wants the shitposters. No one wants the legislators,” said McElwee, who believes the left has failed in its recruitment strategy.
Still, some take heart that at least many of the candidates in swing states are more liberal than their counterparts just a decade ago. Every Senate candidate in a major race, from Mark Kelly in Arizona to Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, supports a public option to compete with private health insurance plans. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock supports repealing the Senate filibuster so that legislation can pass with a simple majority.