Senate Republicans expressed confidence Monday they’d pick up at least six seats this fall, but were more careful in predicting results for seven other races that will determine the Senate majority.
A gain of six seats would be a nice boost for the Senate GOP, but would fall short of expectations for even greater gains. Republicans are competitive in another seven states where Senate seats are now held by Democrats, and Democrats would retain a 53-47 advantage if the GOP gains only six seats.
Separately, House Minority Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorBottom line Virginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention Cantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' MORE (R-Va.) predicted the race for control of the lower chamber would tighten and warned his party not to become complacent after weeks of polls suggesting House Republicans could win back the majority. Republicans need to pick up 39 seats to win a majority in the House.
The cautious signals from Republicans come as Democrats argue they are closing a perceived “enthusiasm” gap between voters for the parties. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Monday boasted that it had raised more money in September than any previous month in the 2009-2010 cycle.
The White House also expressed optimism and argued Democrats are closing the enthusiasm gap with Republicans, partly because of the efforts of President Obama.
But there were also signs for Republicans to be optimistic on Monday. Gallup’s first generic ballot poll of likely voters showed Republicans with a double-digit lead.
Both parties are working hard to set expectations for the election. Neither wants its voters to stay home — Republicans because their supporters believe they will win, Democrats because they believe their votes will not make a difference.
In a memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Executive Director Rob Jesmer predicted outright victories for Gov. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenHouse passes legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity workforce The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE in North Dakota, former Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE in Indiana and Rep. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanArkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats Proposed IRS reporting requirements threaten taxpayer privacy, burden community financial institutions More than ever, we must 'stand to' — and stand behind — our veterans MORE in Arkansas.
Jesmer also predicted Rep. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE and Pat Toomey “will win” in Illinois and Pennsylvania (respectively), and that Ken Buck is “poised to win” in Colorado.
Jesmer was more muted in his confidence of winning seven other states.
Polls suggest Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold is in deep trouble in Wisconsin, but Jesmer did not predict victory. He did write that the NRSC would provide Republican Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Sen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE with “whatever help he needs to maintain his lead” over Feingold.
Jesmer also wouldn’t make any predictions about the fate of Republican candidates John Raese in West Virginia, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Carly Fiorina in California, Dino Rossi in Washington state or Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.
In the battle for the Senate, Republicans have long hoped to knock off Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt MORE in Nevada, and polls continue to show Angle and Reid in a close race.
Democrats have felt good about their chances in West Virginia and Connecticut, but polls suggest tightening races in both states.
Three other races appear to be tougher pickups for Republicans. Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE (Calif.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades MORE (Wash.) appear to be pulling ahead, while Democrat Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Who is afraid of the EU's carbon border adjustment plan? MORE enjoys a 15.7-point lead over O’Donnell in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
Democrats pointed to polls in Delaware, California, Kentucky, Missouri, Washington and Pennsylvania as evidence that their candidates are becoming more competitive — if not running ahead — of GOP candidates.
“We assume their ability to predict outcomes in the general election will be as accurate as it was in the primaries,” said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
In Kentucky and Missouri, the GOP is trying to hold on to seats being vacated by retiring senators.
Jesmer predicted that all incumbent Republican senators would win reelection, and that GOP candidates would likely hold on to open seats previously held by Republicans.
Republicans are seen as having a better chance of winning the Senate than the House, but Cantor warned Monday that efforts by Democrats to bring out their own base may be having an impact.
“I think that it’s been predicted at this point that the poll numbers will tighten up,” he said during an appearance on CNBC.
“I do think that they’re pivoting now to send a signal to the Democratic, left-wing base,” Cantor said, pointing to the increased money that’s been spent in competitive House and Senate races.
Democrats touted the September fundraising as an example of political momentum shifting in their direction with just over four weeks left to go before the election.
The DNC will report over $16 million in revenues from last month when it files its required monthly report with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 20, according to DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse.
“We’ve found that our supporters are now focused on the election, are responding to the president’s message laying out the choice and understand the stakes,” Woodhouse said.
The DNC has donated $20 million so far to the party’s House and Senate campaign committees, and will look to pour cash into competitive campaigns over the next month to stave off Republican victories and hold control of the House and Senate.
This story was originally posted at 11:23 a.m. and updated at 1:11 p.m. and 8:40 p.m.