Republican strategists are feeling increasingly grim about their prospect for taking the Senate back, Politico reports.
North Dakota and Montana, once thought to be fairly easy pickups for Republicans, have remained stubbornly close, thanks to weaker-than-expected GOP contenders and strong Democratic campaigns. Missouri’s been moved out of the sure-win column after Todd Akin’s debacle. And the GOP’s once-high hopes in New Mexico and Hawaii are fading as the party confronts daunting blue-state demographics. [...]
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Washington-based GOP operative who has his hands in several races, offered a dimmer view.
“Republicans are undeniably in a worse spot than a few months ago,” he said. Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson haven’t panned out, and former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp has exceeded expectations, the strategist added.
They’ve had to essentially cede Maine, a seat they held with Olympia Snowe. That’s a loss for them, and Scott Brown in Massachusetts is definitely endangered. That leaves them struggling to find enough pick-up states. North Dakota and Montana aren’t the sure things the GOP thought they’d be six months ago. Now, Republicans are counting on the big, battleground states of Ohio and Florida. In both those states, the Republican candidates have struggled to close the gap with Sens. Sherrod Brown and Bill Nelson, respectively. The only seat they feel pretty good about is Nebraska’s, where Democrat Bob Kerrey seems to be generating about as much excitement among Cornhuskers as he does Kossacks.
Then there’s Missouri, the seat Republicans thought was pure gold for them, until their candidate opened his mouth. Todd Akin is dug in, giving no indication that he’ll petition to have his name removed from the ballot by Sept. 25, the deadline for the GOP to get rid of him.
Democratic leadership is playing this close to the vest, with Chuck Schumer being the only vocal optimist who will publicly say he thinks they’ll keep the Senate. But they’re following the old expectations game. They know as well as anybody that the Republicans would need a perfect storm to pull off a takeover, and with Mitt Romney at the top of their ticket, they sure as all aren’t going to get it.
Republicans know it, too. So let’s just pile on their woes by making each of these Senate races even tougher for them. We get the added advantage of knowing that, while we’re twisting that knife into the Republicans, we’re upgrading the Senate while we’re at it.