Tags: Duffy | Senate | Scully | election

Cook Political Report's Duffy Reviews Senate Races

By    |   Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 08:12 AM

With two weeks to go until Election Day, Jennifer Duffy, who follows congressional races for the Cook Political Report, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to review the Senate races that will eventually decide which party will control the Senate for the next two years.

Host Steve Scully began by asking Duffy which races have most surprised her so far. She replied that they are the ones that were not expected to be competitive but developed late. Examples are the race in South Dakota, where former Sen. Larry Pressler, who served three terms as a RINO, is now running as a Democrat-leaning independent and seems to be taking votes away from the Democratic candidate. Former Gov. Mike Rounds is considered to be leading, but the race is tighter than expected.

She called Kansas "the wild card of the cycle," because incumbent Pat Roberts was considered to be in good shape after winning a tough Republican primary, but he is being challenged by a self-funded independent, Greg Orman, who refuses to announce which party he will caucus with until he sees which will control the Senate. She described the race as "hard to poll," with some polls showing Orman well ahead and some showing Roberts with a slight lead.

Another surprisingly tight race is New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown has closed the gap with incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. (This writer suspects that Brown will ultimately have trouble consolidating Republican votes.)

A theme of this year's races is the prospect of runoffs in two Southern states that could decide control of the Senate, and these races could be influenced by the standing of the parties after November.

In Louisiana, the two leading candidates will most likely meet in a runoff on Dec. 6 as Democrat Mary Landrieu, from an entrenched New Orleans family, tries to hold the seat. (If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote Nov. 4 there will be a runoff.)

In Georgia, it is likely that a runoff will occur Jan. 6 between the Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue.

Some races may be decided by unpredictable twists. For example, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has fallen behind according to some polls as he managed to lose the endorsement of the Democrat-leaning Denver Post for running a campaign confined to a single theme — the definition of "personhood."

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces the highly touted Alison Grimes, the challenger has refused to say whether she voted for Obama. It would have been easy for her simply to say that as a lifelong Democrat, of course she voted for him, but her equivocation has introduced another issue that interferes with the message of her campaign.

Even though Obama has an approval rating in the low 30s in most of the contested states, he has helped the congressional campaign by attending at least 45 fundraisers. It is doubtful that his unpopularity will have much more than an incidental effect on the congressional races.

In Kentucky, though, the Democrat has been polling behind normal Democratic numbers is Eastern Kentucky's coal country due to opposition to the administration's environmental policies.

At the end of the call-in program, Scully asked Duffy what to look for on election evening as an indication of which party is having a winning night. She responded that if the Democrats win one or two states among Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana, they are winning, while if the Republicans can win one or two among Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and New Hampshire, they are winning. Among those states, North Carolina looks highly problematic, as State House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, has struggled to get traction against incumbent Kay Hagen.

One other thought that was not discussed on the program is the fact that in the event the Republicans do win the Senate, they are likely to keep it for only two years, as they have the larger number of seats to defend in 2016. Democrats are almost salivating at the opportunity to run against a Republican Congress in a promising presidential year.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
With two weeks to go until Election Day, Jennifer Duffy, who follows congressional races for the Cook Political Report, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to review the Senate races that will eventually decide which party will control the Senate for the next two years.
Duffy, Senate, Scully, election
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2014-12-23
Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 08:12 AM
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