December 5, 2023

Midterm polls still look bleak for Democrats, as we explained in a newsletter last week. Inflation and disruptions caused by the Covid virus, as well as the regular challenges the president’s party faces in the midterm elections, are affecting the party. As a result, Republicans strongly favor taking back control of the House of Representatives.

My colleague Blake Hunchell points out that the situation in the Senate is different.

There are 10 potentially competitive Senate races this year, according to Cook’s political report, and Democrats need to win at least five of them to maintain Senate control. Democrats favor in two of these 10 races (New Hampshire and Colorado) and Cook rates five others (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) as neglect.

If Democrats retain the Senate without the House of Representatives, they cannot pass legislation without the support of Republicans. But Senate control is important nonetheless. It would allow President Biden to appoint judges, cabinet secretaries and other top officials without any Republican support, since only the Senate needs to confirm the candidates.

I’m going to hand the rest of the staple today to Blake, who’s going to preview the campaign to seize control of the Senate.

When asked to share their candid thoughts about Democrats’ chances of holding onto a House majority in the upcoming election, party strategists often use words that can’t be printed in a family newsletter.

But a brighter picture is emerging of Democrats on the Senate side. There, Republicans are amassing what one senior strategist jokingly described as an “island of inappropriate games” — a diverse group of candidates the Democratic Party hopes to portray as outside the mainstream in politics, personally risky and too cozy with Donald Trump.

These weaknesses have led to a rough few weeks for Republican Senate candidates in many of the most competitive races:

  • Arizona: Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who has garnered Trump’s endorsement and is leading opinion polls in the GOP primaries, has come under fire for saying that ‘honestly black’ They are responsible for most gun violence in the United States. Other Republicans attacked him for earlier comments supporting “unrestricted immigration.”

  • Georgia: Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate facing Senator Raphael Warnock, has admitted he is the father of three previously undisclosed children. Chen Walker regularly against absentee parents.

  • Pennsylvania: Dr. Mehmet Oz, who lived in New Jersey before announcing his candidacy for the Senate, risks appearing inauthentic. Oz recently misspelled the name of his new home in an official document.

  • Nevada: Adam Laxalt, the former state attorney general, said at a pancake breakfast last month “Roe vs. Wade was always a joke.” That’s an unpopular position in socially liberal Nevada, where 63 percent of adults say abortion should mostly be legal.

  • Wisconsin: Senator Ron Johnson made a cameo at the January 6 hearings when it was revealed that on the day of the attack, he wanted to turn over a fraudulent voter list to former Vice President Mike Pence.

Republicans counter some of their own politically strong arguments, blaming Democrats for high prices and saying they have veered too far to the left for ordinary voters.

In Pennsylvania, for example, Democratic Senate candidate Lieutenant John Fetterman supports universal health care, federal marijuana legalization, and criminal justice reform. Republicans were combing his record and past comments to portray him as similar to Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist.

One factor working in favor of Democrats is the fact that only a third of senators are eligible for re-election, and that many races are in states that favor Democrats.

Another is the fact that Senate races can be more distinct than House races, influenced less by national trends and more by the candidates’ personalities. Advertising budgets in Senate races can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, giving candidates a chance to define themselves and their opponents.

Democrats lean heavily on character-driven campaigns, promoting Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona as a moderate and friendly former astronaut and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada as a campaigner for abortion rights, retail workers and families.

“Senate campaigns are battles between candidates,” said David Bergsten, a spokesman for the Senate campaign arm. “And while the Democratic and Democratic candidates developed their own brands, the Republicans introduced deeply flawed candidates.” Bergstein is not objective, but this analysis has some truth to it.

There are about four months until Election Day, which is an eternity in modern American politics. As we’ve seen from the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling and from the explosive allegations made in recent testimony against Trump, the political environment can change rapidly.

If elections were held today, polls suggest Democrats would be narrowly favored to retain control of the Senate. Republican elites are also terrified that voters might nominate Eric Grettens, the scandal-ridden former governor, for the Missouri open seat in the Senate, putting a seat at risk if it is not safe to do so.

But elections, of course, are not held today, and polls are not infallible, as we saw in 2020. So there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the outcome. Biden’s approval rating remains low, and inflation is the number one issue on voters’ minds — not the weaknesses of individual candidates.

For now, the Democrats are glad themselves that they made lemonade out of a decidedly tense political environment.

Programming Note: This new math section was written by the staff of The Athletic.

New York baseball dominance: For many teams, July 5 means 81 games played, which is the official halfway point for the MLB regular season. No one can outlast the New York Yankees, a team on track to surpass some of their greatest seasons of all time. Here’s how all 30 MLB teams stack up halfway. The Yankees have a local company.

Ronaldo’s next home? This question dominated conversations over the weekend Where the football star indicated an exit from Manchester United. Could it be Chelsea Ronaldo next team?

Christian Eriksen’s new home: while, Manchester United added one player He’s more famous for his Euro 2020 horror than for his great talent.

To access all sports articles, Subscribe to the New York Times Full access or home delivery.

Craft beer and wrestling are beginning to transform into a tag team, as crowds across the United States sip misty beers and cheer for the action inside the ring.

Joshua M. Bernstein wrote in The Times about a recent event in Brooklyn.

“It’s like going to the movies,” said one of the wrestlers, “but it’s a realistic performance and you can get drunk.” “What’s better than that?”

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