Republicans in the Senate are feeling more optimistic about gaining more seats next month.
According to a person who participated in the call, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who heads the GOP’s campaign organization, stated to national donors on a conference call this week that he believes his party would win the great majority of close Senate races. According to Gardner’s optimistic forecast, the GOP may hold the majority for years if it wins 55 seats, which would constitute a sizable majority. 51 seats are now under Republican control.
The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee predicted that Republican challengers would defeat incumbent senators Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, as well as defend GOP Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada and fill open seats in Arizona and Tennessee, given the number of close races in red states that President Donald Trump easily won. Except for North Dakota, which leans Republican, polls indicate that every one of those elections is close.
Gardner added that while difficult, the GOP’s campaigns to unseat Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana still have a chance of success. Both of those senators have a slim chance of winning reelection. He claimed that GOP candidates are in good financial health going into the final stretch. He did mention that Heller in Nevada and Martha McSally in Arizona also needed financial assistance.
The statements from the unflappable Gardner show growing assurance that Republicans still feel they will gain momentum in the Senate in November, despite the GOP House majority looking more and more precarious. Republicans, who had previously focused just on maintaining their slim majority, now believe they may be able to perform even better given Democrats’ dwindling odds of regaining control of the Senate.
Democrats would need to defeat him, win in Tennessee or Arizona, and keep all of their incumbents in office for them to regain the majority. Heller is the only GOP incumbent who seems to be in jeopardy.
But with more than two weeks until election day, Democrats claim that close races will depend on the protection of entitlement programs and health care. According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Republicans may try to repeal Obamacare again depending on the outcome of the election. Democrats believe this will help their campaign strategy of criticizing GOP support for a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare and its pre-existing condition protections.
According to Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, “While the NRSC chair was making bold declarations about his lackluster candidates, the majority leader was blowing their cover on the top issue of the election: Protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions.”
However, if Gardner and McConnell can pick up a few seats this year, it will make it much harder for Democrats to win back the majority in that election. Gardner will be one of the Democrats’ top targets in 2020. Democrats will find it challenging, if not impossible, to retake seats lost to Republicans in 2014 in Alaska, West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Louisiana, and Arkansas, leaving them to focus on defeating senators from purple states like Gardner and GOP Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Susan Collins of Maine.
In 2020, only one Democratic senator—Doug Jones of Alabama—seems to be in real danger.
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