With the exception of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s wishful thinking, it is widely expected that Republicans will win back control of the House in next month’s midterms.
Victory for GOP in the Senate, however, is far less certain. But, if recent shifts toward the GOP in two battleground states continue, it just might happen.
In Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was trailing his opponent, Mandela Barnes, by 1.7 points in mid-September. By the end of the month, Johnson had pulled ahead decisively in the race. The RealClearPolitics average of polls as of Sept. 27 shows Johnson leading by 3 points. Of the last six polls in this race, Johnson leads in five and is tied with Barnes in one.
It’s worth noting that right up until the 2016 election, according to RealClearPolitics, Johnson trailed his opponent, then-incumbent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold by 2.7 points, but won the race by 3.4 points.
In an Axios piece published Saturday, political analyst Josh Kraushaar acknowledged Johnson’s momentum. Kraushaar cited a new Fox News poll that showed Johnson up by 4 points (the same poll had Barnes up by 4 just a month ago). The Fox poll also found that 44 percent of respondents consider Barnes’ views to be “too extreme,” up a whopping 14 points from the previous month.
Moreover, the Fox poll uncovered a significant enthusiasm gap between the two candidates: Just 50 percent of Barnes’ backers said they supported him enthusiastically, a drop of 7 points from last month; 68 percent of Johnson’s supporters said they were enthusiastic.
Kraushaar also noted that in the Pennsylvania Senate race, there’s been a major shift in momentum toward Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz. He and the state’s current lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, are battling for a seat that will be opened by the retirement of incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
As of Wednesday, the RCP average of polls in this race has Fetterman ahead by 4.3 points. But throughout the summer, Fetterman held a high single-digit lead over the Trump-backed Oz. In late July, a Fox poll showed Fetterman ahead by 11 points. The latest Fox poll, from Sept. 22, showed him up by just 4.
Similarly, in late August, polling by Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had Fetterman up by 13 points. By Sept. 25, his lead had dwindled to 4 points.
Until recently, Democrats saw the Keystone State as a likely pickup. On Tuesday, The Cook Political report moved the race from “leans Democrat” to a “tossup.” RCP projects this seat as a “GOP hold.”
A Democratic congressman told Axios, “This will be a 50-50 race, and it will determine control of the U.S. Senate.”
Kraushaar attributed the shift in voter sentiment away from Barnes and Fetterman to their positions on crime.
“Likewise, the bulk of Republican attack ads against Fetterman have focused on his role in pushing for clemency while leading the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. Under Fetterman’s leadership, the number of inmates serving life sentences who were recommended for an early release increased significantly.”
Oz needs to keep hammering Fetterman on crime. During a 2021 interview posted to YouTube by the Republican National Committee’s GOP War Room, activist Jason Flom asked Fetterman, “If you had a magic wand and you could wave it and fix one thing, what would it be?”
Without missing a beat, Fetterman replied, “Life without parole in Pennsylvania. We could save billions in revenue long term. We could save thousands of lives and not make anyone less safe. And also expunge as many permanent records of people that have been living their best lives and have been paying well beyond when they should have for a charge that they caught, you know, 10, 15, 20 years ago.”
Fixing “life without parole in Pennsylvania” was more important to this man than, say, job creation, access to quality health care for all, or making the streets safer. Considering Fetterman supports the release of one-third of prison inmates in the state, this shouldn’t surprise us.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joined Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday night to weigh in on the midterms. He said, “By any reasonable standard, Fetterman is a nut. And only the modern Democratic Party could have carried him all the way to the senatorial nomination.”
After citing the spike in crime in the state, Gingrich said his brother, who lives in Pennsylvania, thinks Oz is going to win because, “[I]n the end, he’s [Oz] the candidate of lower prices, … affordable gasoline, … energy jobs in western Pennsylvania, and he’s the candidate of locking up criminals and protecting the innocent.”
Of course, the biggest issue of all in this race may be Fetterman’s health. He suffered a stroke in May and has been reluctant to share a full medical report with voters.
Other Senate races in the tossup column include New Hampshire, where incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan has a RealClearPolitics average lead of 6.6 points (though a Sept. 30 Trafalgar poll had the spread at only 3); Arizona, where Republican Republican Blake Masters trails incumbent Mark Kelly by 3.9; and Georgia, a race that could truly go either way.
In Georgia, Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock is polling ahead of his Republican challenger, former NFL great Herschel Walker, by 1.3 points, according to RealClearPolitics. Walker trailed by as much as 10 points this summer when revelations of his illegitimate children and history of mental health problems surfaced, but he has rebounded strongly over the past month.
On Monday night, however, The Daily Beast published a report claiming that in 2009, the pro-life Walker paid for his then-girlfriend to get an abortion. This was followed by another story in The Daily Beast that reported Walker’s adult son, Christian Walker, had lashed out at his father on Twitter, accusing him of lying. Walker has vehemently denied these allegations, and there are still five weeks to go, but this could hurt him.
Not even two years into the Biden administration, Americans are seeing the dismal price of Democratic control of the White House and Congress in soaring inflation, a faltering economy, and failing influence abroad.
Democratic failures are almost certain to cost their party the House.
No matter what Nancy Pelosi predicted Monday to late night “comedian” Stephen Colbert about Democratic wins in the midterms, even she probably understands that the next speaker of the House is likely to be a Republican.
The upper chamber is a different story, but the bottom line is, if Republicans can win in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, they stand a good chance of taking back the Senate. If, in addition to winning these two races, they also prevail in Ohio, North Carolina, and Nevada, all states in which GOP candidates currently lead, according to RealClearPolitics averages, they will win the Senate.
And the country will be one step closer to putting an end to the Biden disgrace.
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