With about three weeks to go until the midterm elections, where does the battle for Congress stand?
The GOP probably has a clear lead in seven Democratic-held seats (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia); there is a tie in Colorado; and the party is within striking distance in New Hampshire and North Carolina. It has yet to finish off challengers in Georgia and Kentucky, and it is behind in Kansas. The party needs a net six pickups to claim the majority. Midterm races often break in October, even late in the month, as low-information voters begin to engage. While Republicans have the edge for the Senate, there has not been a definitive break, and it is safest to consider control of the Senate a toss-up.
And even if they won, Republicans would be foolish to take victory as a vindication. At most, it would mean that the public wants to check Barack Obama. Polls show wide swaths of the population still view the Republican party as part of the problem, and one need look no further than deep-red Kansas to see the implications. Orman, though largely a cipher, may very well beat a Republican who has been in Congress for over 30 years—in a state that last voted Democratic for president in 1964. So, while capturing the Senate would be enormously helpful in stopping Obama in his final two years, it should not be mistaken for a vote of confidence in the GOP.