Democrats, Do Not Give Up on the Senate.

The chamber of Congress that Democrats are best positioned to wrest control of in the midterm elections is the House. That's indisputable. But the lopsided focus on it — I plead guilty myself — sometimes creates the impression that taking the Senate is a pipe dream and lost cause. And that's insane.

It's a reach, yes. Many more Democrats than Republicans in the Senate are up for re-election and thus defending their seats, and many are doing so in states that Donald Trump won handily. I wouldn't bet on a Democratic takeover.

But I wouldn't give up on it, because a Democratic majority in the Senate means more than one in the House (Supreme Court, anyone?), and there really is a rationale for hope.

It starts with the general political climate and Trump's approval rating, which never crests 45 percent. Sad! Recent polls have shown that in congressional races, voters prefer a generic Democrat to a generic Republican by six to 10 points. That's wave territory, and Democrats are favored by the historical patterns of midterms.

They've also had some luck to counter rosy economic statistics. In key Senate races, the party's incumbents and preferred candidates haven't faced tough primary challenges, so they haven't been bruised prematurely, forced to tap financial resources early or pushed to places on the political spectrum that might be trouble in a general election.

The party needs to pick up two seats. It has more than two states to turn to. For a while now, Jacky Rosen in ever-bluer Nevada has been scaring the bejesus out of the Republican incumbent, Dean Heller. More recently, Kyrsten Sinema in reddish Arizona and Phil Bredesen in redder Tennesseehave emerged as fearsome contenders for seats being vacated by Trump-averse Republicans (Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, respectively).

Democrats struck gold when Bredesen agreed to run: He's a former two-term governor of Tennessee who exhibited bipartisan appeal. He's polling strongly. And he's campaigning sagely. In one ad he tells voters that if Trump pushes a policy "good for the people of Tennessee," he'll support it. "It doesn't matter where it came from."

That assurance reflects the strategically tempered approach that other Senate candidates in Trump-friendly states are taking. For example, Heidi Heitkamp, the vulnerable Democratic incumbent in North Dakota, uses one of her ads to say, "I voted over half the time with President Trump, and that made a lot of people in Washington mad."

Jennifer Duffy, who handicaps Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, has both Arizona and Tennessee in the "tossup" category. Late last week, she moved Texas from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican," upgrading the chances of an upset by Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic challenger to Ted Cruz. "I just can't ignore Texas anymore," she told me. "O'Rourke has too much money." It's largely small donations from individual donors, underscoring the romance of his bid and the contrast between him and Cruz, who's not exactly romantic.

Democratic leaders have, among other smart adjustments, ramped up their digital efforts with an eye toward the youngest voters, whose turnout is typically disappointing but whose distaste for Trump is strong. The party's problem — a huge one — is that 10 of its incumbents are in states that voted for Trump. It can't afford for more than one or two to lose.

The four in Rust Belt states where Trump prevailed by single-digit margins — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio — seem for now to be safe, amid signals of disenchantment with Trump in that region.

North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia all favored Trump by double-digit margins. But in none of them has the Republican challenger yet proved especially mighty. In Montana and in West Virginia, where a Democratic "super PAC" spent heavily and successfully to keep the Republican candidate it considered most worrisome from getting the nomination, the Democratic incumbents are looking sturdier every day.

Florida, where Trump edged out Hillary Clinton, will be noisy and nasty. Bill Nelson's Republican challenger is the state's governor, Rick Scott, who's willing to pump his own millions into the race. But both the Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer and the American Civil Liberties Union are engaged in initiatives that could elevate Democratic turnout there. And Scott's two gubernatorial victories were mere one-point wins in midterm years — 2010 and 2014 — when Republicans swaggered. In 2018, they're slinking.

Some Republicans believe that they can snatch the Senate seat held by Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who was ensnared in a humiliating ethics scandal. Democratic leaders aren't all that worried, and Duffy sides with them.

She's riveted by — wait for it — Mississippi. "That's the big asterisk that makes me crazy," she said. An open Senate seat there might not be decided until a Nov. 27 runoff of sorts. What if everything hinges on it, and Democrats, emboldened by their Senate victory in a special election in Alabama last year, make a similar stand in another usually hopeless state?

Mississippians, brace for a media invasion like you've never seen. Americans, buckle up.

Frank Bruni, New York Times, August 7, 2018.


August 8, 2018

Post Script. Danny O'Connor might not have won yesterday but he showed Dems can compete even in the reddest of gerrymandered districts.

Republicans have won for 35 years in this district which the Ohio GOP designed for them.

They brought in Trump and Pence, and Kasich, who has 65% approval in Ohio, to push his opponent maybe over the finish line. They spent $6 million for what was supposed to be a reliable Republican seats. Still the results are too close to call and won't be known for weeks, as the recounting begins.

President Obama’s campaign Manager David Akelrod described what happened in a tweet that mocked the man in the White House..

This is only the start for Ohio CD 12. Danny gets another chance very soon and will win in November! They can't spend so much then nor can all the GOP bigwigs turn out there.

We will each make another 15 minutes of calls for Danny this fall, won't we!

And Bruni is right. We can win the Senate too.

Chins up. We have just begun to take back America.

#StopTrump #StoptheGOP

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