The countdown clock to the midterm elections has officially begun. As of today, there are 97 days until voters will flock to the booth to cast their ballot in crucial Senate races across the country. And while things are looking up for Republicans, it’s no time to get complacent.
As incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told a crown at the Ripon Society last week, it is not enough to “pitch a perfect game.” He added that “You can’t sit back and think the majority’s going to come to you. You have to go and fight for it.”
Fortunately, Republican candidates are fighting on playing field that currently tips in their favor. New polling suggests that Republican candidates have an opportunity to win as many as 10 Senate seats currently held by Democrats, leaving the party to play defense on many fronts.
Democrats face other headwinds as well, namely, the president’s sinking poll numbers. Recent polls suggest that the president’s approval rating continues to hover near historic lows and, more importantly, the Americans’ opinion of Obama’s competence is plummeting. In December of 2009, more than three quarters of Americans said Obama could manage the government effectively; today that number is 42 percent.
And although some left-leaning pundits pooh-pooh presidential approval as an indicator for a Senate race, it is important. A recent Pew Research poll found 29 percent of people said their vote would be “against” Obama, versus just 19 percent who said their vote would be to support the president. As Chris Cillizza writes for the Washington Post,
“What those numbers suggest is that while Obama is not the only factor in how people will vote this fall, he is absolutely a factor in how people are making up their minds. And, at the moment, people who see 2014 as a way to send a signal of disapproval about Obama greatly outnumber the people who want to use their vote to show their support for him and his agenda.”
All of those trends are culminating in a favorable climate for Republican candidates this fall. That edge is also presenting itself I several simulation models that consider possible outcomes for the Senate.
Following the release of a new online panel from YouGov, which covered every congressional and governor’s race in the country, the New York Times’ Upshot model now predicts that Republicans have a 60 percent chance of taking control of the Senate, up from 54 percent on April 1. But that doesn’t give Republicans cause to crow, it gives them a reason to get to work. As Anthony Salvanto, Doug Rivers and Andy Guess write for CBS News, which developed the simulation model in collaboration with the New York Times:
Republicans’ current edge looks like enough to win at the moment, but that edge is politically tenuous and statistically narrow. It’s based on a string of razor-tight races that are all-but tossups, notably one-point race estimates that narrowly favor the GOP in Louisiana, North Carolina, Iowa and Michigan. In the model, those slim leads translate to close wins in most scenarios. There are other combinations of states they could win, under less likely scenarios; but the tight underlying estimates underscore the fact that these races could still go either way.
In sum, this is a tight race for control of the Senate, full of close individual races across the country.
This is no time to get complacent or rest on our laurels. Polls and models don’t win elections, good candidates, activated voters, and workhorse campaigns do. College Republican groups on campuses throughout the country will be working to make phone calls, hand out campaign literature, and talk to undecided voters on behalf of the GOP’s amazing slate of Senate candidates. Will you help us?