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Can the Democrats Hold the Senate?

US President Joe Biden. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
US President Joe Biden. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

New polls, released this week, have bolstered Democrats’ hopes, with about one week remaining before the midterm election. Democrats still appear capable of winning a Senate majority

Currently, Democrats are neck-and-neck with Republicans in battleground states Georgia and Nevada. In Arizona and Pennsylvania – two more battleground states – Democrats seem to be enjoying a slight lead. However, the Pennsylvania poll was taken before John Fetterman’s epically bad debate performance. Whether Fetterman’s debate performance eroded his small lead over Republican candidate Mehmet Oz remains unclear but seems likely. 

The new polls represent a glimmer of hope for Democrats. Polls taken throughout the Fall showed the Republicans gaining ground in Senate and House races. “Taken together, the new polls suggest neither party has a commanding advantage in the battle for the chamber,” POLITICO reported.

Perhaps the most uplifting news for Democrats relates to Arizona. Democratic Senator Mark Kelly has been in a tight race for re-election, up against Peter Thiel-funded candidate Blake Masters. According to a fresh New York Times/Siena College poll, Kelly has a 6-point lead on Masters – and Kelly enjoys a significant 22-point lead among independent voters, which are crucial in battleground states like Arizona. 

Masters’ campaign had appeared to be surging. He received a $5 million push from Thiel in October. And the GOP at large, Masters included, has benefited from the high-profile nature of gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s campaign. Lake’s TV polish, paired with her hardline MAGA viewpoints, have combined to make for a powerful political entity, such that other GOP Arizona candidates have benefitted simply by proximity.  

The news out of Pennsylvania was bleaker for Democrats. Granted, Democratic candidate Fetterman also registered a 6-point lead. But those numbers were mostly collected before his debate performance. That event, which came just a few months after the candidate suffered a stroke, raised serious questions about Fetterman’s health and ability to perform the duties of a United States Senator. Fetterman had difficulty articulating himself, often stumbling over, or struggling to find, words. Most pundits believe the debate will erode support for Fetterman’s cause. So accordingly, a poll taken before the debate will likely be skewed in Fetterman’s favor – those numbers are already out of date – and the up-to-date number likely reflect a bump in Oz’s favor.

In Georgia, the new polls indicated the likelihood of a December runoff. The poll featured Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock leading the scandal-plagued GOP candidate Herschel Walker 49 percent to 46 percent. But Warnock was shy of the majority needed for a clean November win. Another poll, taken by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also showed Warnock and Walker below the 50 percent threshold, bolstering the case that a December runoff looms. Increasing the likelihood of a December runoff is the presence of Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver. While Oliver will not win the election, or come anywhere close, he does threaten to earn enough votes to keep the two mainstream candidates below the 50 percent threshold needed for an outright win in November.

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The drama continues to mount in Nevada. Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt were tied – 47 percent to 47 percent – in the New York Times/Siena College poll. Democrats are especially worried about losing Nevada, where Democrats had previously felt comfortable, owing to Democrats’ popularity with Latino voters. Yet, as the GOP makes gains amongst the Latino community, Nevada is coming into play. 

History still suggests that the midterm elections will favor Republicans – the out-of-power party typically gains seats. But the new polls have given Democrats a boost of hope down the home stretch. Expect the next week to be brutally contested, especially in the battleground states seemingly still up for grabs. 

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

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Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.