Saturday, July 18, 2020

Democrats Could Take Both Chambers of Congress

I suppose I should be picking it up with my own election analyses, but it's not been a normal election year, obviously. I've seen journalists dropping the "tsunami" word lately, suggesting the November elections will be a tidal wave washing all of the GOP incumbents out to sea.

You'd think so, actually. This is looking like the best year for Democrats I can remember, like ever.

In any case, at LAT, "As Trump sinks, he’s pulling down the Republican Senate, too":

CRANBERRY ISLES, Maine —  President Trump’s faltering reelection campaign increasingly is dragging on the Republican Senate, giving Democrats their best hope in more than a decade of winning control of both houses of Congress as well as the White House.

Democrats now threaten Republican Senate incumbents in Georgia, Iowa and Montana — states that had seemed reliably red — in addition to Colorado and Arizona, where Democrats have had the advantage for months, and Maine, where GOP Sen. Susan Collins is facing the toughest election in her long career.

The challengers have been swamping Republican rivals in fundraising and moving ahead in polls, leading independent analysts to dial up their assessment of the Democrats’ chances.

“After Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016, there’s a temptation to avoid making political projections,” wrote Nathan Gonzales, a nonpartisan analyst and editor of Inside Elections. “But one election result shouldn’t cause us to ignore the data. And right now, the preponderance of data points to a great election for Democrats, including taking control of the Senate.”

New campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this week show that most Democratic Senate challengers out-raised their GOP rivals in the last three months — some by as much as 3 to 1.

In Georgia, where both Senate seats are up, polls have tightened so much that the Trump campaign and other GOP committees have begun advertising in a state that hasn’t backed a Democrat for president or Senate in more than 20 years.

Even worse for incumbent Republicans: Their fate is largely in the president’s hands. The Trump-dominated political environment, turned sour for his party by his handling of the coronavirus crisis and the nationwide protests over racism, has essentially made the Senate’s state-by-state contests a single, nationalized campaign.

Republicans currently control the Senate 53 to 47. Democrats need a net gain of four seats for a majority, or three if Joe Biden wins the presidency. When the Senate is split 50-50, the vice president is the tiebreaker.

But Democratic ambitions have grown larger: Biden said this week he could see his party winning 55 seats. Many Republicans fear that could happen.

“Panic is gripping the Senate races,” said Rob Stutzman, a California Republican political strategist who is a vocal Trump critic. “A lot of candidates are in a really, really tough spot.”

One sign of how nationalized the Senate races have become: An analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics finds that a record 69% of money contributed to Senate candidates now comes from outside their states. That’s up from 59% in 2018, as donors across the country are treating individual races as a referendum on Trump and GOP control of the Senate.

Nowhere is the national profile of a race as high as here in Maine. Sara Gideon, the speaker of the state House who won the Democratic primary Tuesday, stands to gain about $4 million raised in a national fundraising drive for the benefit of whichever Democrat won the nomination to challenge Collins.

The incumbent is a rare Republican with a record of supporting abortion rights, but her vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite his opposition to abortion rights has drawn donations and attention to her race from coast to coast.

“We are following all the campaigns where there is a chance of tipping a seat to Democrats,” said Sonia Cairns, an 80-year-old Minneapolis retiree who is planning to donate to Gideon. “Of course I need to know more about Sara Gideon, but I want a Democrat to win that Senate seat.”

A Center for Responsive Politics analysis by senior researcher Doug Weber found that both parties saw a surge in out-of-state giving, but it was more pronounced for Democrats. Republicans pulled in 64% of their contributions from out of state; for Democrats it was 72%.

A big money advantage built on out-of-state support can be a shaky political foundation, warned Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the center.

“It’s great to raise money, but only voters can cast ballots,” she said...