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 CantorBottom Line The Democrats' strategy conundrum: a 'movement' or a coalition? The biggest political upsets of the decade 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 HoevenBipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock House Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Overnight Energy: Trump rollback of Obama mileage standards faces court challenges | Court strikes down EPA suspension of Obama greenhouse gas rule | Trump floats cutting domestic oil production MORE in North Dakota, former Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsGerman lawmaker, US ambassador to Germany trade jabs Intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to improve communication with Trump: report Senate confirms Ratcliffe to be Trump's spy chief MORE in Indiana and Rep. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up Congress headed toward unemployment showdown We can't afford to let local news die MORE in Arkansas.

Jesmer also predicted Rep. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry 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 Johnson Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death Schumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe 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 ReidCortez Masto says she's not interested in being Biden VP Nevada congressman admits to affair after relationship divulged on podcast Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil 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 BoxerPolls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday Establishment Democrats rallying behind Biden MORE (Calif.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Lack of child care poses major hurdle as businesses reopen Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies MORE (Wash.) appear to be pulling ahead, while Democrat Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsVoting rights, public health officials roll out guidelines to protect voters from COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Warren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor 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.