The Democrats will pick up five to seven seats in the Senate and win the chamber, the Cook Political Report predicted Tuesday.
It was expected for much of the election season Democrats would gain four to six seats in the Senate, but numbers have dipped for Republicans following the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape Oct. 7 where Donald Trump talked about touching women inappropriately.
"Senate Republicans had been doing a pretty solid job of maintaining their distance from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump by running their own campaign that focused largely on more local issues or those issues that motivate their base," wrote Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report. "The strategy was working fine, and it looked as if Republicans would be able to keep their losses low.
"That is until Oct. 7 when The Washington Post reported on the existence of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump described sexually assaulting women. Then things started to unravel, albeit slowly."
Democrats need four seats to tie the chamber – Republicans currently hold 54 seats to 45 for the Democrats – and there are 34 seats up for election. Cook says numbers for Republicans have dipped in Florida (Marco Rubio), North Carolina (Richard Burr), New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte), Nevada (Joe Heck), and Pennsylvania (Patrick Toomey).
"The GOP's only hope is to start running a checks-and-balances message, or more blatantly, a don't-give-[Hillary]-Clinton-a-blank-check message to motivate their base, particularly what one strategist called 'casual Republicans,' to the polls," Duffy concluded.
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