Douglas Andrews / October 12, 2022

The Senate: Here’s What You Need to Know

A handful of tight races in the upper chamber will determine whether Republicans can take total control of Congress.

By now, most prognosticators are picking the Republicans to retake the House. That’s a safe bet. Much more uncertain, though — and no less important — is the Senate. But even there, with each passing day, Republican prospects continue to improve.

It would sure help, though, if Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney would get on board rather than actively working to sabotage their party’s chances.

For example, why is Minority Leader McConnell not pumping money into the campaign of Arizona Republican Blake Masters? It’s a rhetorical question. Masters has criticized McConnell and is endorsed by Donald Trump, and McConnell’s Trump derangement continues to get the best of him. Masters has closed the gap with incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly to the point where Fox News now considers it a toss-up, and he mopped the floor with Kelly in last week’s debate.

In addition, Masters recently picked up the endorsement of Mike Pence, even though Pence supported Masters’s opponent in the Republican primary. All this makes McConnell’s unwillingness to funnel money into Arizona seem even more spiteful. The goal is to win, right? The goal is for McConnell to trade places with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, right? A Masters win would be a huge pickup for the GOP, and it’s there for the taking.

Sadly, the 48th state isn’t the only one where McConnell’s TDS is showing. The 49th state, Alaska, has a weird ranked-choice voting system that in this case will practically ensure a Republican wins, but it might not be RINO incumbent Lisa Murkowski, who now trails Trump-endorsed challenger Kelly Tshibaka by double digits. Here, though, McConnell is promoting a civil war by pumping $9 million into the campaign of an old establishment colleague, Murkowski, who’s been in the Senate for 20 years and has generally been an unreliable vote. All because Trump has backed a more compelling candidate. Just imagine what that $9 million might do for Blake Masters in Arizona.

Then there’s Utah, which would seem to be as safely red as any state, but whose junior senator, failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is refusing to endorse his Republican colleague Mike Lee, who’s up for reelection in a weird race in which the Democrats chose not to run a candidate but to instead prop up a phony Trump-hating “independent” and 2016 presidential candidate named Evan McMullin. A recent poll has the whip-smart and supremely conservative Lee ahead of McMullin by only four points, 41-37, with an uncomfortable number of undecided voters, and with millions in out-of-state Democrat cash flowing into Utah to support McMullin. And here again, a Trump-hating Republican, Romney, seems intent on wrecking the party’s chances to secure a Senate majority. Could it be because Lee refused to vote to convict Trump in either impeachment trial?

“Romney and Lee have been on the opposite sides of several major votes,” reports Utah’s Deseret News, “including the Donald Trump impeachment trials, infrastructure bill, and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.”

Romney, for his part, claims that he hasn’t endorsed his fellow Republican because he considers both Lee and McMullin to be friends of his. Some friend.

Last night on Tucker Carlson’s show, Lee implored Romney to do the right thing: “It’s not too late, Mitt,” Lee said. “You can join the party. I’d welcome you to do so because otherwise you’d be stuck with two more years of Chuck Schumer being the leader and two more years of Joe Biden having unfettered rule over the United States Senate without any Republican backstop.”

Elsewhere in key Senate races, Nevada and Georgia represent the Republicans’ best chances for flipping seats. Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is quietly poised to knock off incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, against whom he’s opened up a small but remarkably consistent lead in every recent poll. As Newsweek notes, “President Joe Biden won [Nevada] by about 2.4 percentage points — but Cortez Masto is seen as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat.” Indeed she is, and Laxalt, the son of onetime Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt, is a strong candidate. In the Peach State, Republican Herschel Walker is, despite his recent troubles, and despite the Democrat smear machine and its out-of-state millions, running neck-and-neck with hard-left, spouse-abusing, homeless-evicting Raphael Warnock. Here, another runoff election may be in the offing, as a third-party candidate might keep both Walker and Warnock from getting to 50%.

In Wisconsin, incumbent Ron Johnson has opened up a small but consistent lead over hard-left Democrat Mandela Barnes. This should comfort the GOP, because Johnson has won previous elections even though he’s been behind in the polls right up until Election Day. This shy Johnson vote is likely a shy Republican vote generally, so Wisconsin polling should be adjusted accordingly. Remember: Just one week before the 2020 election, a clownish ABC News/Washington Post poll had Joe Biden beating Donald Trump in the Dairy State by 17 points. The actual margin was half a point, and only that much due to rigging.

Next come three Republican retirements in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are trying to hold onto the seat being vacated by Pat Toomey, with retired cardiothoracic surgeon and TV personality Mehmet Oz going up against hoodie-wearing, criminal-coddling, trust-fund slacker John Fetterman. Our Thomas Gallatin delved into the unfitness of Fetterman, whose physical health in the wake of a serious stroke calls into question his ability to serve effectively — and it appears that Pennsylvanians are taking notice. So is NBC News. Fetterman has refused to debate Oz, and what was once a double-digit lead for Fetterman is now a statistical dead heat. But given that early voting started weeks ago in the Keystone State, we have to hope that enough persuadable voters refrained from doing so.

In North Carolina, Republicans are defending the seat of retiring Senator Richard Burr, and their candidate — Trump-endorsed businessman and three-term Congressman Ted Budd — has been holding a tiny lead over Democrat Cheri Beasley, whose radical positions are starting to find their way to the voters. In their only televised debate, which took place on Friday, Beasley did her best to run away from Biden, while Budd reminded everyone that her policy positions are the same as the president’s. This race has been largely under the radar, but it’s just as crucial as any other.

Finally, in Ohio, Republicans are defending yet another seat — that of outgoing Senator Rob Portman. There, it’s retired Marine, Yale Law graduate, and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance going up against Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan. A recent poll has Vance up by two points, but that margin might grow a bit if enough Ohioans tuned into the first of the candidates’ two debates, which took place in Cleveland Monday night. To put it bluntly, Vance smoked Ryan. But don’t take our word for it; see for yourself:

No wonder Democrat candidates across the board have been reluctant to debate their Republican rivals. They’re on the wrong side of nearly every issue that matters to the American people: inflation, jobs, crime, gun rights, illegal immigration, unchecked spending, education, wokeness, transgenderism, religious liberty, the IRS, etc.

The Democrats? They think they have abortion. That’s it.

With 26 days until the election, we’re no longer hearing the giddiness, the optimism of the Democrats and their mainstream media water-carriers. That brief Biden boomlet has subsided, and the president has since reverted back to form, back to his approval rating in the low 40s, back to being on the sidelines while Democrat candidates across the country try to defend the indefensible.

“When the now-traditional midterm wave hits the Democrats,” writes National Review’s Jim Geraghty, “why does it always seem worse than expected? Probably because so many media voices spend October telling Democrats that it won’t be that bad.”

We think it’ll be bad for the Democrats — bad in the House, and bad in the Senate. Still, none of this prognostication matters. Only voting does.

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