I’ll spare you the suspense — if a number of things break well, yes, we can. Let’s dig in.
We have a good shot at picking up four seats: Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. Will we get all four? Let’s assume no, but that we pick up three. That takes us to 52, less any seats we lose. The question in Arizona, Nevada and Texas is whether millennial and Hispanic voters come out in droves. The Hispanic population of Tennessee is 5%, so that would make a difference only in the closest of races, but the Hispanic populations of Arizona, Nevada and Texas are 31%, 29%, and 39%, respectively. Note that is only population, not voters. The percentage of registered Hispanic voters in all those states is lower. Still, those are election-changing numbers. Plus, “Hispanic” is not a monolithic voting bloc. However, in the era of families separated at the border, the rescinding of passports of American citizens, and the horror of how the incumbent fascist regime treats and speaks about Hispanics, and it may well get people to the polls.
Add to that the number of people who want a check against Trumpkin in the Senate, as well as the regular base of Democratic voters, and we’ve got a real shot. If it was possible to turnout millennials, and we’d for sure be over the top. Millennials are huge in number, but their turnout levels in the past several elections has been less than stellar. BUT – this year we have the “Parkland Effect” – many people turning 18 this year are energized (and registered) and that could make a difference, especially in Arizona and Texas where age distribution skews young. That’s true to a slightly lesser effect in Nevada, and not a consideration in Tennessee.
In Arizona, the seat is being vacated by Jeff Flake, who has steadfastly refused to endorse either Martha McSally or Kyrsten Sinema. He sent congratulations to both on Primary Night. Arizona came close to overturning a Congressional seat in a Special Election a few months ago, and that may well get just a few more people out statewide. The 8th CD was a 5 point win, in a district that should have been much more red, and people have had a few more months of the Trumpkin regime (include the family separations at the border) and it looks eminently possible. Polling (a bleeding edge) has Sinema ahead. Sinema has a bit more money than McSally, who spent heavily in her contested primary.
In Nevada, Dean Heller is considered the most endangered Republican Senator. Jacky Rosan won an open Congressional seat in 2016 in a swing district in a highly red year. She’s running a strong campaign, and has almost as much money as Heller, although there’s a good chance that will change in September. The GOP and it’s dark money accomplices will be looking across the country and will pour money only into the strongest races – as they are defending seats they never thought they’d have to, and may overlook Heller.
In Tennessee, Phil Bredesen is a popular ex-Governor, and Marsha Blackburn is a Trumpite. While Bredesen outraised Blackburn, he’s been spending heavily, so we’ll see if he can make up the deficit. Right now, he’s polling ahead of her, and the question will be how much of the Trumpite base is actually left in Tennessee.
And then, we have Texas. Back in 2008, the solid projection was that Texas would turn blue in 2024, based on Demographic markers. But, the world has changed since then. Texas consistently has the 5th worst voter turnout in the country. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the bottom line, the greatest challenge, and the greatest hope, is that Democrats don’t turn out. When you look at the crowds that Beto O’Rourke is garnering as he visits every county in Texas (and returns to many) – crowd size often dwarfs the number of voters that showed up to the polls in 2016. (Yeah, I know….amazing, but hopeful!) Trumpkin is planning to “fill the largest stadium” in Texas in a campaign event for Ted Cruz. and the optics are going to suck, since the largest stadium in Texas is Kyle Field at Texas A&M which holds 102,000 people. Trumpkin’s largest crowd was in Alabama in the summer for 2015, when he turned out about 25,000 people. Plus, Trumpkin campaigning for candidates hasn’t helped them. His endorsement sometimes does, but showing up in person doesn’t.
In addition, O’Rourke is running a clean campaign dedicated to hope and promise, and ignoring the pettiness that is Ted Cruz. It is a message that seems to be resonating. He’s raised more money than Cruz, and has more cash on hand. Cruz is polling ahead, but within the margin of error.
So those are the pick-up opportunities. Where are we vulnerable? “The Conventional Wisdom” says that we are in danger of losing Bill Nelson in Florida, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Joe Manchin in West Virginia.
Nelson just received the gift of Andrew Gillum this week. The base that gave Gillum the primary win was predominantly comprised of millennials and people of color. If the two of them can get each other’s bases to vote for one another (HEY! Straight Democratic tickets up and down the ballot) the whole will be more than the sum of the parts and both will cruise to victory. Medicare Criminal Scott has more money than anyone, but it might not help him with the algae bloom, and other important statewide issues (like taxes and education.) The two headwinds for Nelson are “The Villages” outside of Orlando, chock full of Trumpites who are rich and retired and have way too much time on their hands, and the lackluster voter registration of Puerto Ricans who have arrived since the hurricane.
Indiana? Incumbents generally start with +5 for name recognition, and Donnelly running against a businessman named Mike Braun who hasn’t really been vetted since he won because the other two competitors beat each other to death during primary season. Donnelly has a 6:1 financial edge over Braun, who CAN self-fund, but has been out there fund raising ever since the primary.
Claire McCaskill has angels on her shoulder – remember Todd Akin? (If not, look him up). And this year, running against Josh Hawley, there is a lot of intrigue about the most recent (convicted) governor. McCaskill has a financial advantage of 3:1, although the polls are dead even. This will be a nail biter.
Heitkamp has a financial advantage, and polls are close (with her losing to Kevin Cramer) BUT Trumpkin has given props to both candidates.
Manchin seems to have it in the bag, and I don’t understand why people still have the race listed as a toss up.
So where are we? I think we pick up 3 seats. I think we lose North Dakota. If so, that would put us at 51 in January. Which would be enough.
Please use the comments to explain why you think I’m wrong…and as always – VOTE AND BRING THREE FRIENDS — Elections Have Consequences.
Reprinted with permission from Democratic Convention Watch, 3 September 2018. All rights reserved.