Top political handicapper shifts three Senate races towards GOP

A top political handicapper has moved three Senate seats currently in Democratic control to toss-ups ahead of next year’s midterm elections that are shaping up to be a potential blowout of the party in power.

If the Cook Political Report’s predictions turn out to be accurate, that would mean Republicans would regain control of the upper chamber and be in a position to significantly hamper President Joe Biden’s agenda, not to mention his judicial and Executive Branch nominees.

The three seats now in play are currently held by Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona; Raphael Warnock of Georgia; and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. Republicans had already viewed those seats as potential pickups and the Cook Political Report’s latest designation as “toss-ups” will likely strengthen their resolve to target them during next year’s 2022 midterms.

Once a solid red state, Arizona has flipped purple over the past few election cycles. The state legislature is controlled by Republicans and Gov. Doug Ducey is a Republican as well, but both U.S. senators are Democrats. That said, several Republicans have lined up to challenge Kelly next year. The former astronaut is among the most well-funded Democrats seeking reelection, but he will still face a stiff challenge “given Arizona’s relatively new status as a battleground.” President Joe Biden narrowly won the state last year after Arizonans had voted for GOP presidential candidates for several election cycles.

As for who will run against the two Democrats in Nevada and Georgia, those races remain fairly clear. In the Peach State, former President Donald Trump has already endorsed his longtime friend and former NFL star, Herschel Walker, and he is leading the GOP pack at the moment. And in Nevada, Trump is backing Republican contender Adam Laxalt in the state’s GOP primary next year.

“Republicans need a net gain of just one seat in the Senate next year to recapture control of the upper chamber. And while the GOP is defending more seats than Democrats are, the national political landscape has shifted in its favor,” The Hill reported.

The changing political landscape comes amid low approval ratings for Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, which have been blamed, in part, for historic wins by Republicans in key races thought to be shoo-in contests for Democrats.

That includes the loss of the Virginia gubernatorial race earlier this month when GOP contender Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat and former governor Terry McAuliffe. In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy nearly lost his race after leading by double digits earlier in the year, and Republicans picked up state legislative seats in the New York Assembly as and won district attorney races in Long Island.

Also, a heavily Hispanic and historically blue state legislative district in Texas flipped to the Republican column this month as well.

As such, “Republicans are increasingly optimistic about their chances, believing that many of the voters who helped hand Democrats control of Washington in 2020 are moving back into the GOP’s corner,” The Hill noted, which includes visions of retaking the House and possibly retiring Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

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