Republican Svengali Karl RoveWall Street Journalcolumn this week is devoted to assessing the party's electoral standing heading into next month's midterm elections. He's voiced concerns about the GOP weaknesses and vulnerabilities in recent weeks, noting that netting at least six Senate seats in a single cycle is never an easy task -- even in an auspicious national environment. With less than three weeks to go, Rove sees a stronger Republican hand:
In this year’s 11 most-competitive Senate contests, Democrats must run far ahead of the president’s job approval to escape defeat. According to the Wednesday Huffington Post’s Pollster aggregate summaries, Mr. Obama’s job approval is 35% or less in Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia; 40% or less in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire; and 45% or less in North Carolina and Michigan...Money and ad buys matter, but what matters more is whether the quality of the candidates’ messages will attract undecided voters in the final weeks. Here, too, both sides are making different bets. Republicans are counting on undecided voters breaking against the party in power. Democrats are counting on undecideds to stay home or to split evenly, with as many turned off by individual Republican candidates as are down on the president.
This doesn’t appear to be happening. In the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Republican challengers lead in eight of the 11 most-contested races, with nine improving their numbers or margins since Sept. 1. Republicans also lead and have improved their numbers or margins in all three vulnerable GOP seats: Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia. Democrats ran an impressive get-out-the-vote effort in 2012 and say their ground game will produce victory this year. Republicans also are spending heavily and deploying new technology and data...Surprises are possible in the remaining 19 days before the election. But there are a dwindling numbers of cards in the deck, and Republicans appear to have the better hand.
National Journal reports that officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are projecting a GOP takeover of the Senate next year, but are tamping down expectations of a major red wave:
National Republicans believe they will retake the Senate on Nov. 4. But don't call it a "wave." Asked by reporters at a pen-and-pad briefing Thursday how confident he was that his party would gain control of the chamber, National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Rob Collins said: "We are going to win the Senate. I feel very good about that." Still, Collins said he would not characterize 2014 as a "wave" election, though he noted that momentum has shifted toward GOP candidates in a handful of red- and purple-state races. "In some ways this hasn't been the wave that everyone's been looking to cover," he said. "And I know that can be frustrating. … But I will say this: If you look at September, you saw Arkansas consistently move and then kind of solidify at 4-5 points. We've seen Alaska move, Iowa move, and Colorado move, Kansas move back toward us, and now we're seeing North Carolina move this weekend." He did acknowledge, though, that races in Georgia and South Dakota—where Democrats have put in late-stage, seven-figure investments—have tightened.
We've been mapping out the math for weeks now. If Republicans hold the three contested seats they currently control (GA, KS, KY, none of which are 'in the bag' yet) and flip open Democrat-held seats in three states (MT, WV, SD, with the latter being by far the closest), they'll need three more to demote Harry Reid. They have at least an even shot at winning in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana at this stage -- with Colorado and Iowa looking promising, as well. The North Carolina race has moved back into toss-up territory, while Scott Brown is keeping things close enough in New Hampshire to keep his race on the map. In the Tar Heel State, Republicans are continuing to press Kay Hagan on questions about sweetheart 'stimulus' deals that financially benefited her immediate family, her bizarre 'attaboy' for the CDC on its handling of Ebola, and her decision to skip a key Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser for herself in New York City:
Let's run through a few more ads. In Iowa, Joni Ernst offers a folksy take on government spending; in Alaska, Condoleezza Rice issues a strong endorsement of Dan Sullivan; and in Georgia, women speak out against Obama ally Michelle Nunn -- who recently joined Alison Lundergan Grimes in declining to state whether she voted for the president:
I'll leave you with Colorado Democrat Mark Udall naming the biggest non-issue from which Congress and the country should "move on:"
Nothing to see here, folks.