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Polls: Senate races in Alaska and South Carolina are surprisingly competitive for Democrats

A couple of new New York Times and Siena College Senate polls this week show that Democrats are pushing for an edge in two traditionally conservative states – Alaska and South Carolina – as of November 3 closing.

In Alaska, the Times / Siena poll found independent Senate candidate Al Gross – running as a Democratic candidate – behind incumbent Republican Senator Dan Sullivan by about 8 percentage points, with backing from third-party candidate John Howe at 10%.

And in South Carolina, Siena pollsters found that Senate Judiciary President Lindsey Graham continues to face a much closer race than expected, with Democrat Jaime Harrison just 6 percentage points behind his rival and riding a wave. of momentum. In 201

4, by comparison, Graham won re-election by more than 15 percentage points.

Although Republican incumbents are still favorites to win in Alaska and South Carolina, challengers Gross and Harrison have seen large inflows of campaign money in recent weeks: Harrison has set an all-time record by raising $ 57 million. in just one quarter. Data for Progress’s Sean McElwee recently told Vox’s Matthew Yglesias that it’s not too late for campaigns to use massive cash injections, meaning these large fundraisers could affect the bottom line of any race. And other recent polls show much tighter contests in both states.

An Alaska poll released this week, by Harstad Strategic Research, found Gross leads Sullivan by 1 percentage point, although this is well within the 4 percentage point margin of error. A survey carried out just before Harstad, Alaska Survey Research’s The September 25 to October 4 poll found Sullivan ahead by 4 percentage points.

This close poll is reflected in expert predictions of outcomes in the state: Tuesday, Cook Political Report shifted his perspective on the Alaskan Senate race from Probable R to Lean R.

And J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of the Crystal Ball on Saturday, told Vox’s Ella Nilsen in August, “I’m not going to sleep during the Senate run.”

Cook now also rates South Carolina as a real toss-up, and Data for Progress found Harrison with a 2 percentage point lead over Graham in early October, again within the 3.5% margin of error of the poll. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in late September found Harrison and Graham were tied, while a CBS News poll conducted over the same period found Graham had a one percent lead.

That one of the Democratic candidates is even remotely close to their Republican rival with just 17 days until the election strike. The results of either election won’t necessarily change as polls suggest, but the fact that Alaska and South Carolina are at stake for Democrats underscores just how much the Democratic path to a potential Senate majority has grown.

The democratic chances of a majority in the Senate are increasing

To obtain an absolute majority, Democrats must get four seats in a chamber currently controlled by the GOP, 53 seats against 47 (including independent senses Bernie Sanders and Angus King, who caucus with the Democrats).

The work of pollsters and meteorologists suggests that a Democratic majority in 2021 looks increasingly realistic: According to Senate forecasts by FiveThirtyEight, Democrats are outright favorites in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina against Republicans. in charge; Montana and Kansas, as well as Alaska and South Carolina, may also be at stake.

In total, Jessica Taylor of Cook Political Report He says that Democrats could get up to seven seats if all fails on November 3.

In some states, this optimism is reflected in spending.

In Colorado, for example, the Republican National Senatorial Committee is downsizing its investment in incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner. The group spent less than $ 150,000 in the state during the first half of October, according to the Denver Post, compared to millions spent in Iowa, Montana and elsewhere.

And a Democratic PAC is also withdrawing its investments in Colorado, for the opposite reason. That group, Senate Majority PAC, is so confident in Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper, who is leading by a comfortable double-digit margin, that it’s shifting state-earmarked funds to other races.

However, there are some areas of concern for Democrats. In Alabama, where Democratic Senator Doug Jones won an unlikely victory over Republican Roy Moore in 2018, Republicans are favored to unseat the incumbent Democrat. And even the race in Michigan, where Democratic Senator Gary Peters is ready for re-election, promises to be competitive.

Joe Biden’s agenda could rest on a majority in the Democratic Senate

While defeating President Donald Trump is the Democrats’ top priority, control of the Senate could prove almost as important for 2020.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell – who is expected to win reelection in November – honors his US Senate “Grim Reaper” title. And if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes office in January with McConnell still in charge of the majority, Democratic marquee priorities – such as health care, climate change and the right to vote – are likely to die upon arrival.

The good news for Democrats is that Gross and Harrison aren’t the only Democratic candidates to bathe. From July 1 to the end of September, Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue processed donations of $ 1.5 billion, ensuring that the party’s shortlist will be well funded for the final three weeks of competition.

These current polling and fundraising successes have led some Republicans to sound the alarm: Republican pollster David Flaherty told the Denver Post this week that “the train wreck and the president’s implosion will bring down a historic number of other candidates. Republicans, and if you don’t you think your head is in the sand. ”And last Friday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz raised the specter of“ a bloodbath of Watergate proportions ”for his party on CNBC.

As always, polls can be ephemeral – they are a snapshot over time, not a prediction of how the race will evolve on election day. Things can change and suddenly. But there’s not much time left for the race, and the current state of affairs makes many Democrats feel confident about their chances in the Senate majority.

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