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November 2, 2014

Roll Call Event With Top Senate Campaign Aides Thursday

Collins is the executive director of the NRSC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The cycle’s top campaign operatives will delve inside the races that decided the Senate majority in a special post-election briefing at CQ Roll Call’s Election Impact Conference.

Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will discuss the top Senate contests of 2014 — their first joint appearance after Election Day.

The duo will be interviewed by Roll Call’s Editor-in-Chief, Christina Bellantoni, at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill. It’s part of our larger look into what the election’s results signal for the 114th Congress (Register here!).

I’ll moderate a discussion later that morning a panel of reporters and pollsters who will take a deep dive into the election results, including Nathan L. Gonzales, deputy editor, Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call Contributor; Perry Bacon, NBC News Senior Political Reporter; Mark Blumenthal, Huffington Post Senior Polling Editor; and Abby Livingston of our Roll Call Politics team.

The Election Impact Conference also features: Full story

November 1, 2014

Final Rankings: The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Pryor, right, canvasses Saturday with an aide in the Little Rock, Arkansas, suburbs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Roll Call’s final ranking of the most vulnerable senators doesn’t vary much from previous versions — the result of an unfavorable national climate for Democrats that has failed to improve.

On the eve of the midterm elections, Senate Democrats are staring down a hole dug by President Barack Obama’s disapproval ratings and an unforgiving map packed with red states. Retirements by a quartet of senators in Republican-leaning or swing states didn’t help, but the seats of at least four incumbents seeking re-election aren’t on much stronger ground.

It’s the reality of what could end up being a dreadful cycle for Democrats. Still, party strategists remain cautiously optimistic they can hold on to a few endangered seats, possibly even pick up a GOP open seat in Georgia and save the majority. Republicans need a net gain of six seats. Full story

October 31, 2014

Senate Democrats’ Super Lawyer Preps for Overtime

Elias speaks with Roll Call at Perkins Coie's D.C. office Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate chamber erupted in applause after the swearing-in of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Majority Leader Harry Reid eventually looked up and directed his appreciation toward the newest senator’s attorneys.

On that day, more than five years ago, standing alongside his two Franken campaign co-counsels was Marc Elias, the Democrats’ go-to attorney. He’d spent the previous eight months in Minneapolis in a seemingly unending recount and trial that ultimately resulted in a 60th Senate seat for the party.

This cycle, as Franken is favored for re-election and Democrats fight to hold their majority, Elias sat down with CQ Roll Call to chat about Senate races, where exactly he’ll be watching election returns on Nov. 4, which states he’s keeping an eye on for potential recounts and his role in one of the longest recounts in Senate history.

(Join us on Election Night: Live Stream With Analysis, Results and More at RollCall.com)

“It was a very emotional thing,” Elias said of standing in the chamber on July 7, 2009. “Not just because of the fact that Franken was getting sworn-in, but I remember Leader Reid looking up at us, Sen. [John] Kerry and all these other members that I’d been involved with in representing, and it was really a great moment.”

Full story

October 28, 2014

New DSCC Ad Renews Education Attacks on Thom Tillis

kay hagan

Hagan is a North Carolina Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is up with a new ad Tuesday attacking Republican Thom Tillis on education.

Polls show a tied race between Tillis and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate, and the party has targeted the Tar Heel State as one of them.

The DSCC’s ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, echoes arguments Hagan and Democrats have made throughout the campaign. It attacks Tillis for his tenure as speaker of the state House, during which time he was responsible for the budget for public education in the state.

Full story

October 27, 2014

New DSCC Ad Hits Scott Brown on Medicare

scott brown

Scott Brown speaks in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is releasing a new ad Monday in New Hampshire targeting former Sen. Scott P. Brown on Medicare.

Brown faces Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in a race rated Tilts Democrat by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

The DSCC’s ad, provided first to Roll Call, hits Brown for his vote in 2011 for a budget that would have made cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Full story

Senators Line Up to Be DSCC Chairman in 2016

Tester, right, is interested in leading the DSCC next cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had limited options over the past two cycles as he recruited a chairman to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But 2016 is likely to be different.

After two straight cycles of defending twice as many seats as Republicans, the tables will soon turn as the Republican class of 2010 faces re-election. The next cycle will also feature presidential turnout, which could benefit Democrats as they either cling to a small majority or, more likely, push to regain control — depending on what happens over the next few months.

Beyond the benefit of a more favorable map than in 2012 and 2014, with fewer incumbents up in 2016 Reid will simply have a larger pool of applicants to choose from. And there should be several willing candidates among the numerous names currently being mentioned. Full story

10 Moments That Won or Lost Senate Control

senate races 2014

The 2014 battle for the Senate has featured a few candidate bumbles and some colorful characters.

So far, it’s lacked any cycle-defining gaffes — “Todd Akin moments” — but there is still a week to go until Election Day and potentially two runoffs extending things into early next year.

Every election cycle provides noteworthy events or moments in time that, in hindsight, proved to be pivot points in the outcome. Roll Call has identified 10 such instances that helped define this cycle’s Senate landscape.

In 2012, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s, R-Maine, last-minute retirement began to alter the conventional wisdom that Republicans were likely headed for the majority. Months later, comments about rape by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock sealed the deal for Democrats.

Now, once again, the majority is up for grabs: Republicans have pushed the fight into purple states, while Democrats are holding out hope the party can hang on.

Here are 10 moments that helped get us here, in chronological order:

Hollywood Star Declines McConnell Challenge (March 27, 2013) Full story

October 24, 2014

DSCC Raises $6.5 Million in Early October

senate races 2014

In the first two weeks of October, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee edged the National Republican Senatorial Committee in fundraising, taking in $6.5 million to the NRSC’s $6.1 million.

But the NRSC brought in more funds during that time if a $4 million transfer from the Republican National Committee is included in the total. The DSCC received a $1.5 million transfer from the Democratic National Committees.
Full story

October 20, 2014

Michelle Nunn’s Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

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Nunn is introduced by state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims at an April campaign event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The competitive open-seat Senate race in Georgia has become an unwanted liability for Republicans’ chances of winning a majority, but Democrat Michelle Nunn still has a perilous path to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 4.

National Republicans, who just spent $1.4 million more to support their nominee, say David Perdue is still ahead. But his comments about his “outsourcing” past have undoubtedly breathed new life into the Nunn campaign — and given national Democrats their best offensive opportunity.

Still, with a third-party candidate expected to take a chunk of votes, an unfavorable national climate and a small margin for error in this Republican-leaning state, Nunn has several hurdles standing in the way of her best chance for victory — winning a majority of the vote on Election Day. Perdue would be favored in a Jan. 6 runoff because turning out the vote then would be an even heavier lift for Democrats.

“The numbers are strong,” said state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who recently led a statewide voter registration drive aimed at young minorities. “It’s certainly all about turnout, which is a generic trope, but real. If we can turn out the voters, she can win in November. But we have to be prepared for any eventuality, and I think the campaign is prepared for that.” Full story

New DSCC Ad Hits Thom Tillis on Women’s Health

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with a new ad in North Carolina attacking Republican Thom Tillis on women’s health issues.

Tillis faces Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. The race had been trending narrowly in Hagan’s favor, but last week the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced the party would invest an additional $6 million for the final few weeks. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate, and they want this to be one of them.

The new ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, slams Tillis for acting to “defund Planned Parenthood,” and for previously saying that businesses should be able to deny coverage of contraceptives to their employees. Full story

October 16, 2014

New DSCC Ad Attacks Ernst on Abortion Stance

Iowa Senate Race

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching a new ad in Iowa Thursday targeting Republican Joni Ernst over her stance on abortion and her sponsorship in the state Senate of a “personhood” bill.

Ernst faces Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in one of the most competitive races this cycle. The open seat, currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, could be one of the six seats Republicans need to take control of the Senate.

The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, features an Iowa nurse named Kim Tweedy who says she has worked on the sexual assault response team.

“I’ve seen lots of cases, many of them are very brutal. It breaks your heart. I’ll never understand politicians who make it even harder, politicians like Joni Ernst,” Tweedy says. Full story

October 15, 2014

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

2014 senate races

The winner of the race between Roberts, left, and Orman, right, will play a major role in deciding the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

So much for a predictable midterm cycle. The past month has left multiple possible outcomes for control of the Senate.

Republican groups are barraging Kansas with resources and advertising to save a three-term incumbent being challenged by an independent in a solidly GOP state. Democrats, lacking much hope for months of holding an open seat in South Dakota, are all of a sudden dropping $1 million in advertising there — and being matched by Republicans — in a last-second Hail Mary that could possibly save its majority.

Just three weeks remain until Election Day, yet control of the Senate remains a dogfight and more than a handful of seats could conceivably go either way. The GOP has at least 10 states to find a path to six Senate seats and the majority, but — while public polling in most states appears to be moving in its direction — at this point the party has only locked up two Democrat-held seats in a favorable national climate.

Making matters more convoluted are the unknowns surrounding independent candidates Greg Orman in Kansas and Larry Pressler in South Dakota, who have yet to say which caucus they would join.

With so many variables and competitive races, plus potential and competitive runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, the outcome of the midterm elections is anyone’s guess.

But as the votes start rolling in, there’s a chance the result will be one of the following three scenarios: Full story

Democratic Poll: Jeanne Shaheen Leads Scott Brown

scott brown

A Democratic poll has Shaheen leading her re-election race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen maintained a significant, single-digit lead in a new Democratic tracking poll.

The survey, obtained by CQ Roll Call, found the Democrat ahead 50 percent to 44 percent against former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass.

Kiley & Company conducted the poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. According to a polling memo, it found Shaheen with a 7-point net favorable rating, while Brown’s was 7 points underwater. The senator led by 15 points among women and by 7 points among independents, while Brown led by 4 points among men. The incumbent also led by 33 points on the question of which candidate “is committed to New Hampshire.” Full story

October 14, 2014

DSCC Goes Dark in Kentucky

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has gone dark in Kentucky, where the party is targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

After a significant investment in support of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the DSCC had not reserved time for the final three weeks of the race and, as of today, is no longer on the air. Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 1:49 p.m.
Ads, DSCC

NRSC Airs First South Dakota Ad (Video)

larry pressler

The race for Johnson's seat is heating up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched its first TV ad today in the newest hot race on the competitive Senate playing field, one day after national Democrats released an ad of their own.

The spot, part of the committee’s recently-announced $1 million ad buy in the state, takes aim at Democrat Rick Weiland and independent Larry Pressler — the two greatest challengers to Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds.

“In the race for U.S. Senate, Rick Weiland and Larry Pressler have a lot in common,” the ad’s announcer says, noting they both support the president’s health care law, “strict new gun laws” and higher energy costs. Full story

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