Republican takeover of Senate looks likely, polls show
The lean towards Republicans is largely due to a decline of support for the Democratic Party, resulting from frustration with President Obama and his administration, writes Jennifer Rubin in her Washington Post blog. But while Republicans’ chances of winning a Senate majority look probable, there is still uncertainty as to which party will come out on top in several battleground states with competitive Senate races.
The issue that likely voters consider to be most important is the economy, and the GOP is favored as being the more trusting party on this issue. Republicans also hold an advantage on the issue of foreign affairs, maintaining a 10-point lead as more trusted to handle international crisis, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll. FiveThirtyEight estimates that Republicans have a 68.5 percent chance of winning a majority in the Senate while Democrats trail behind with a 31.5 percent chance. “Most analysts think the Republicans have about a 65 percent chance of winning the six seats that would bring them to a 51 seat narrow majority,” said SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson. “With as many as 10 seats close enough to be considered in play, a Republican Senate majority is certainly possible.”
With less than a week remaining, nonstop coverage of the elections has inspired viewers to make their own predictions of the Senate’s fate. SMU Senior Alexa Horner has been following the elections in her speech class and also watches Fox News to get her information. She doesn’t let the media or public opinion influence her views and decision, however. “I would say my own personal views and perceptions of the current administration and Congress members shapes my opinion of the chances of Republicans winning. My opinion is that the Republicans will take over the Senate. Because there are only six seats that need to be won by the Republicans plus signs in the polls, I think their chances are high for gaining majority,” said Horner.
While Republicans are guaranteed almost certain wins in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, they also need to win three of the six Democratic-held seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina. The GOP seems confident in flipping Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana and winning at least one of the two most competitive swing states, Iowa and Colorado. However, additional gains in those states may be crucial for Republicans as three of their own seats are being challenged in Georgia, Kansas and Kentucky. New Hampshire’s race also plays an important role, now considered a toss-up as Republican Scott Brown catches up to Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, however Shaheen still remains in the lead.
CBS/New York Times Battleground Tracker finds that it may come down to two usually blue states, Colorado and Iowa, and a potential gain in Alaska to secure the GOP’s win, writes Anthony Salvanto on cbsnews.com. And although Republicans hold a steady advantage, their chances of winning are not certain. Iowa is currently tied between Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst. While Republicans are in position to gain a seat, Iowa has shown a shift towards a more blue state, voting for President Obama in both elections. SMU Political Science Professor Dennis Simon does not see Iowa’s shift as posing a threat, however. “Right now, I’d guess that Ernst, the Republican, will win. For Braley to win, the Democrats will have to have a good ground operation and turn out the vote on Tuesday,” said Simon.
Republican Cory Gardner now has a seven point lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, after only leading by one point just a few days ago. Colorado’s numbers have seen major shifts, however, as Udall was ahead by six points in September. SMU senior and Colorado native Katie Durham predicts that Udall ‘s numbers will bounce back up in time for the elections. “Because Colorado is a socially liberal state, I believe that Mark Udall, the current senator, will stay in office. However, I want the Republicans to win the Senate. I believe having control of both the House and the Senate will put a focus on job creation, reduce the deficit and give us a huge advantage in the 2016 Presidential election,” said Durham.
Two competitive races in Louisiana and Georgia are at risk of complicating the elections and delaying a pronounced winner as the battleground states face the possibility of runoff elections. Professor Simon predicts a likely chance of runoff elections. “Georgia is a solid Republican state. The question is whether the Libertarian on the ballot will draw enough Republican votes to send it to a runoff. The same is true with Louisiana; the difference is that Mary Landrieu is an incumbent. I’d say the chances of a runoff are good but not certain. In the runoffs, odds would favor the Republican,” said Simon.
Republicans’ strong lead is largely due to the party’s nomination of strong candidates this year. Four of them—Cory Gardner (Colorado), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Thom Tillis (North Carolina) and Scott Brown (New Hampshire)—are either current or former officeholders and have accomplished records to refer to when presenting their cases to voters in these states. Additionally, the Democrat’s position has declined as President Obama’s approval ratings have dropped. “If Republicans do win a majority, President Obama’s unpopularity will certainly be one reason. If they don’t, it will probably be because Democratic incumbents like Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Mark Udall of Colorado managed to hang on,” said Professor Jillson.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll surveyed across nine states with competitive Senate races revealed a majority of people say the government’s ability to tackle big problems has declined and they blame President Obama and Democrats for the issue rather than Republicans in Congress. Ultimately, the numbers give Republicans more hope but they do not secure their position of capturing the Senate. With competitive races still in play, it could be anyone’s race.
1. Cal Jillson: email@example.com
2. Alexa Horner: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Katie Durham: email@example.com
4. Dennis Simon: firstname.lastname@example.org