While Republican chances of taking control of the Senate in the November midterms appear good right now, past performances dictate that Democrats should not be counted out yet, according to a panel of election insiders.
Democratic political pollster Doug Usher and Republican strategist Phillip Stutts told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that it may be too soon to handicap the strength of the GOP heading into this fall's key races.
"The field looks pretty good for Republicans, but there are a couple places where it shouldn't be competitive, and which may determine the fate of the Senate," Usher said. "In Georgia, there's a potential for a self-inflicted wound much like what lost them the Senate races in Nevada and in Delaware and in Missouri over the last couple of cycles.
"So the Democrats are going to lose ground, but when you ask how much trouble they're in, we're going to have to see how these primaries go over the next couple of months to really know."
The primary season will be telling, according to the panel, because in key states both parties are going to have to spend more than they probably would like. In Georgia, none of the seven GOP candidates for U.S. Senate appears destined to win a majority, meaning a runoff in July is likely.
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Also, anticipated close races in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, and Oregon are going to require Democrats to spend money where they ordinarily wouldn't have to, taking much-needed dollars from other primary battles, the panel agreed.
"The money is going to be spread around so much that maybe [Democrats] don't get enough to play where they want to be on offense," Stutts said. "The other way to look at this is to say, this is a midterm election, the last two years of the presidency. Usually that bodes well for the minority party, which is the Republicans, and you've got basically a depressed Democrat base. And how does that play nationwide?"
Where the Democrats cannot be discounted, according to Usher, is in the recent history of the GOP squandering similar opportunities.
"Republicans have done a really good job of losing very easy Senate races because of their primary efforts in the last three cycles," Usher said. "You could have had this same discussion in 2008, in 2010, and in 2012, and every time Republican strategists said, 'it's just lining up when the field's opening up for us to take back the Senate.'
"The problem for Republicans is continuing to be self-inflicted wounds. If there was some discipline, if there was some sense that there's a party elder, party leaders that had strategic thinking put ahead of ideology, they would have taken the Senate in 2010," Usher said.
Stutts said he does not believe Republicans will repeat past mistakes. He said the race to watch in his mind is in Michigan, not Georgia, as many believe.
"We can debate the candidates that ran two years ago or four years ago, but we're on offense now," Stutts said. "There are not any extremist candidates out there and I frankly see Michigan, with Terri Lynn Land running a very strong campaign, raising a lot of money. Americans for Prosperity is in there spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's the race."
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