Posted: 9:01 pm Thursday, October 30th, 2014
By Jamie Dupree
With Republicans threatening to take over the Senate and add more seats to their majority in the U.S. House, this final weekend before Election Day will feature only a tiny foray by President Obama into the battle for Congress, as he campaigns for Democrats running for Governor in mainly blue states, but avoids the larger battle in the U.S. Senate.
“While many races remain close, it’s just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate,” said the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, in his latest review of the mid-term elections.
Other than his scheduled stop on Saturday in Michigan – where Democrats already have a strong advantage in a Senate race – the President is staying away from the Senate fight, where a change in power would certainly alter the political dynamic in Washington, D.C.
The President stopped Thursday in Maine, where he tried to spur turnout to help Democrats in their bid to oust Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
“Five days from now, you get to choose a new governor,” the President told a crowd of about 3,000.
“You’ve got to take everyone you know to cast a ballot for Mike Michaud.”
Obama: “you might have wandered in here thinking there’s a basketball game going on. And if so, I want you to vote.” #OnMessage
— E McMorris-Santoro (@EvanMcSan) October 30, 2014
Mr. Obama will be in Rhode Island, Michigan, Connecticut and Pennsylvania in the next three days; aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest did not outline any further campaign travel on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
“Any more events – any more campaign events Monday and Tuesday before the election?” Earnest was asked.
“Nothing that we have to announce right now,” Earnest replied.
While the President hopes to influence some races for Governor, as of now he seems almost powerless to do anything about the House or Senate, as Republicans are licking their chops at possible gains on Tuesday.
Odds seem to favor the GOP
Republicans need to pick up a net of six seats to take control of the Senate – how they get there is anyone’s guess right now:
+ The GOP remains very optimistic that Republicans will win Democratic seats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana
+ Conventional wisdom here in D.C. is that Georgia & Louisiana will go to a runoff
+ Republicans think they are in very good position in both Arkansas and Alaska
+ Colorado and Iowa also are seen as possibly in the GOP column
+ North Carolina and New Hampshire remain too close to call
As for possible pickups by Democrats, they still hope an independent can win in Kansas, as well as in Georgia. Kentucky seems to be a long shot.
A review of where outside money has been spent the most provides a very revealing view on the fight for the Senate – that both parties see the races in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa as key in 2014.
According to the Washington Post, these six Senate candidates have seen the most money spent against them by outside groups:
1. Thom Tillis (R) North Carolina – $32.2 million
2. Cory Gardner (R) Colorado – $26.7 million
3. Joni Ernst (R) Iowa – $23.3 million
4. Mark Udall (D) Colorado – $21.3 million
5. Kay Hagan (D) North Carolina – $18.5 million<br.
6. Bruce Braley (D) Iowa – $17.6 million
As of now, Republicans are probably the favorites in Colorado, the slight favorite in Iowa, and it’s a toss up in North Carolina.
GOP aiming for gains in House
As the number of toss up races has grown in the House of Representatives in recent weeks, the number of Democratic seats in play has grown, giving the GOP new chances to add to their majority.
One of those seats is in Nevada, where a strong early vote by Republicans has lifted hopes of the GOP to knock of Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV).
That sparked a late ad from President Obama on Horsford’s behalf.
While there are a couple of GOP seats that could be in danger next Tuesday, most of the seats in the toss up category are held by Democrats, meaning a bigger GOP surge could tip extra seats to the Republicans.
“Last week, we had 15 Toss-ups,” said Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia. “As befitting the Republican tint of this midterm, most of them — 11 — now Lean Republican.”
And that is the bottom line right now, Democrats are moving to save seats by playing defense, while the GOP has been able to expand the playing field.
With one weekend to go.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.