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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Despite Concerns, Senate Dems in Better Late-August Position Than 2010

Caitlin Huey-Burns’s post “How Democrats Can Hold Their Senate Majority” at Real Clear Politics is not well-titled, since it is more a horse race update than a genuine how-to. Read as a recap, however, it does offer a “road ahead” snapshot of the challenges Dems face in holding their upper-chamber majority. As Huey-Burns elaborates:

…It’s not all doom and gloom for Democrats. A silver lining, party operatives say, has been there all along. What the party has going for it are strong, battle-tested incumbents. And that advantage is holding up — so far.
Republicans have a terrible record of beating incumbent Democratic senators, going back to their last good year in this category, 1980,” wrote Larry Sabato and his “Crystal Ball” colleagues this week. “There is no obvious way for the GOP to gain the six seats necessary for control without taking down some incumbent Democrats, a task at which Republicans have struggled — they haven’t beaten more than two Democratic Senate incumbents since that huge 1980 landslide.”
…Several Democratic incumbents are either leading or within the margin of error, according to polls. With the exception of Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, no Republican challenger has pulled into a significant lead in Democratic-held states.
After Labor Day weekend, voters will begin to tune in in earnest to the congressional races in their states and districts and the ad wars will heat up. Contests will surely tighten, and both Democrats and Republicans expect close races up until Election Day…
Democrats note that at this point in 2010, a GOP wave was already coming and much hope was lost. “Now, the Republican brand is worse than it’s ever been, so even in red states where we should be losing, we’re not,” said Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “It speaks to the strength of our incumbents and their brands.”

Huey-Burns gets down to specific cases and notes that Dem Senate incumbents are holding up surprisingly well and our challengers are playing serious offense in red states GA and KY. Republicans are more worried than they thought they would be on the eve of Labor Day. She acknowledges that “there is still little room for error on the Democratic side” considering the large number of Senate seats Dems are defending. But the fact that so many seats are still very much in play is encouraging.
As we approach the Labor Day break, it seems like a good time for Democrats who want to help boost turnout in November to start thinking about voter registration deadlines and planning GOTV projects. Toward that end, Rock the Vote has the voter registration skinny — and registration forms — for the 50 states right here.

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