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With less than a week left to go before the midterms, just about everything is breaking in Republicans’ favor.
The big picture: Just a few weeks ago, Republicans seemed to be on the ropes thanks to a slate of polarizing, MAGA-aligned candidates with seemingly strong Democratic opponents, and a relentless Democratic focus on abortion.
- Now, though, all of those fortunes seem to have been reversed.
- If all of Cook’s “lean,” ‘likely” and “solid” Republican races hold, the GOP would only need to win 6 of the 35 “toss up” races to take the majority. Democrats would need to win 29 of the 35.
- FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast shows the race for the upper chamber remains in a “dead heat,” but gave Republicans a lead (51/49) for the first time since July.
Between the lines: Candidate quality — perhaps Democrats’ biggest advantage this cycle — may not be as decisive as it once seemed.
- Pennsylvania Senate nominee John Fetterman swept the Democratic primary because of that blue-collar appeal. But ads battering him on crime, along with the reaction to last week’s debate, have dimmed Democratic optimism about winning the bellwether Senate race.
- Ohio Senate nominee Tim Ryan represented a working-class northeast Ohio district in the House, and focused his campaign on union members and pitching an everyman appeal. His moderate campaign has won over some skeptics, but he still faces a difficult challenge in a red-trending state that Donald Trump carried by 8 points.
At the same time, extreme or unprepared Republican nominees may not be as big a liability as they once seemed.
- With the growing possibility of a red wave, it’s possible that some flawed MAGA-aligned candidates could win despite their political struggles.
- Keep a close eye on Blake Masters in Arizona and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire.
- Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Mitch McConnell, stopped investing in those races because they weren’t sold on the caliber of those GOP nominees. But polling is showing both races competitive, and are still winnable for Republicans if there’s a big red wave.