Democrats are faltering in their efforts to keep control of the U.S. Senate, GOP strategist Karl Rove wrote in a commentary in The Wall Street Journal.
In states where President Barack Obama "is unpopular, candidates are tempted to distance themselves," Rove wrote in the Journal. "This makes them look shifty and disloyal and could alienate the president's supporters. But not separating themselves can be lethal."
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Montana Democratic Sen. John Walsh, who is filling out the term of Max Baucus and seeking election in his own right, was found to have plagiarized his Army War College master's thesis, according to The New York Times. Even without that revelation his GOP opponent Rep. Steve Daines was leading him by double-digits, Rove wrote.
In West Virginia, Democrat Natalie Tennant could not articulate a good reason why she supports Obama when asked by a voter to do so. This will work to the advantage of Republican Shelley Moore Capito, Rove said. Tennant and Capito are running for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
The Democratic candidate in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, made herself sound like an amateur when she waded into foreign affairs, Rove said. In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn mistakenly uploaded an internal campaign strategy paper exposing her liabilities.
The Kentucky and Georgia Senate seats currently are held by Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is running for re-election against Grimes in Kentucky.
Political analysts at The Washington Post and at FiveThirtyEight forecast that Republicans are likely to capture the Senate, Rove wrote.
"This is good news for the GOP, but Republicans shouldn't pop the champagne corks," he wrote. "There are too few nonpartisan surveys. Pollsters are still working to understand the impact of the increasing number of cellphone-only households." Democrats also have more campaign cash, Rove wrote.
Republicans are showing less enthusiasm than they did in 2010, Rove said, citing the Pew Research Center
. Where GOP voters had been 13 points more passionate than Democrats in 2010, now Republicans are 8 points more enthusiastic. In the meantime, Obama is mobilizing his base by emphasizing cultural issues like abortion and contraception, Rove wrote.
"While the political topography favors the GOP and several Democratic candidates have been hurt in recent weeks, the battle for Senate control is far from over. Republicans who think otherwise are fooling themselves," Rove said.
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