Cook Political Report shifts Senate forecast toward GOP

The nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report on Friday shifted its forecast of control for the Senate toward Republicans just four days out from the midterm elections.

Jessica Taylor, the Senate and governors editor for the Cook Political Report, said in her analysis that Cook was shifting its forecast for the race away from Democrats because the national environment as of late has been seen as more favorable toward Republicans and that issues like the economy and inflation are resonating more with voters now than abortion. 

Taylor noted that Democrats could still see a scenario where they maintain their narrow majority at 50-50 in the Senate, but she said it’s possible Republicans could pick up as many as three seats in the elections. 

Among the races where she believed Republicans either had an edge or where Democrats appeared to be hitting a ceiling in support were Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. She said that in Pennsylvania, there’s lingering questions about Democratic candidate John Fetterman’s health — Fetterman suffered a stroke in May — after a rocky debate performance last week and said that some Republican-leaning voters who might have previously been skeptical of Mehmet Oz (R) are appearing to consolidate their support. 

In Wisconsin, where Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) is taking on Sen. Ron Johnson (R), Taylor said Cook was moving the race from “toss up” to “lean Republican” because “the national climate gives the incumbent the slightest of edges, while Republicans have pummeled Barnes on crime. Many national Democratic strategists we talked to closely watching this race concede those attacks have worked, and aren’t optimistic given the worsening political environment.”

And over in Nevada, Taylor said that while Adam Laxalt is seen as more a generic Republican running against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), public polling seemed to suggest Cortez Masto had a ceiling of 46 percent. 

In Georgia, Taylor wrote that GOP hopeful Herschel Walker may be favored to win if the Senate race goes into a runoff — required by state law if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote — and the majority in the upper chamber hangs in the balance, though she said that if the race goes to a runoff and there’s a clearer picture about who holds the majority, it could be a harder night for Walker to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock (D). 

“However, we also now see a scenario where — driven by potential large margins of Gov. Brian Kemp in his rematch with Stacey Abrams — Walker could win outright if it is an outstanding night for Republicans,” she noted.

The rating shift comes as Republicans are surging toward what they hope will be a good night on Tuesday, hoping to take back the Senate as the national climate has shown that the economy and inflation are top of mind for many voters. 

Still, Democrats believe they have an edge given that many of their candidates are polling within the margin of error against their Republican opponents and have not been dogged by some of the same negative headlines that have hindered GOP candidates like Blake Masters in Arizona and Walker in Georgia.

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