Democratic senators are feeling increasingly optimistic about their chances of winning back the Senate majority in November, The Hill reported.
Republicans, with a 53-47 seat edge, have spent most of the cycle viewed as the front-runners for holding onto their majority, even though they were defending 23 seats to Democrats’ 12.
But Democrats have seen their odds boosted in recent weeks by President Trump’s crumbling poll numbers amid widespread criticism of his handling of the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread anger over police brutality toward African Americans.
“I feel good about them, I do. I mean certainly better than a year ago,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the party’s 2016 vice presidential nominee, asked about the party’s chances.
He caveated that the lead up to November would be full of “twists and turns,” but “if the elections were today I would feel … good.”
The coronavirus pandemic has also crushed what had been a strong economy, undermining Trump’s greatest strength. National polls have shown presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over Trump, and a number of GOP senators suddenly find themselves either behind in polls or in neck and neck races.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he was feeling “better than I have in the last year and a half” about the party’s chances of regaining control of the Senate, which Democrats lost in the 2014 election.
“The playing field is getting bigger, Trump’s numbers continue to be in free fall, our candidates are outraising Republican incumbents everywhere. I don’t know that we could be better in a position than we are today,” Murphy said.
Democrats are also careful to temper their optimism. They note that the election is still months away and it is anyone’s guess what will happening in a year that has already seen an impeachment trial, a once-in-a-century health pandemic, an economic downturn and a national reckoning with police brutality and systemic racial inequality after George Floyd’s death in police custody.
“I’m encouraged but it’s four months and 10 days away,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat.
A national Democratic strategist added that the party had a “very good shot” at taking back the Senate, putting it at “50-50 or better.”
“There are a lot of warning signs” for Republicans, the strategist added. “I think that a big part of how the map has shifted in our favor is that the number of states in play has grown and that’s been almost entirely to our benefit.”