Senate GOP predicts six-seat gain as Republicans offer caution

Senate GOP predicts six-seat gain as Republicans offer caution

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 CantorEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington GOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington 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 HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE in North Dakota, former Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump has named more ex-lobbyists to Cabinet in 3 years than Obama, Bush did in full terms: report Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Congress should defy Dan Coats' last request on phone surveillance MORE in Indiana and Rep. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanVA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen MORE in Arkansas.

Jesmer also predicted Rep. Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio 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 JohnsonRepublicans wary of US action on Iran Democratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks 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 warns Trump 'can be reelected' Homeland Security Republican accuses Navy of withholding UFO info Poll: 47 percent back limits on Senate filibuster 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 BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (Calif.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball MORE (Wash.) appear to be pulling ahead, while Democrat Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsBill to return B in unredeemed bonds advances Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel Democratic senator: Attacks on Saudi oil refineries 'may call for military action against Iran' 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.