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As a national Republican wave crested on Election Day, there were several campaigns in both parties that stood out as outstanding operations.
The GOP expanded its House majority and obtained control of the Senate. As a result, more Republican campaigns emerged deserving of the spotlight. But there were also several Democratic operations worthy of recognition.
Roll Call has compiled a list of the cream of the crop of 2014. Many faced long odds, crowded primaries, an unpopular president and millions in targeted attack ads. But through all that and more, these campaigns ably managed the curves of the cycle — and all but one were victorious.
In alphabetical order by candidate, here are the best congressional campaigns of the midterms: Full story
Updated Nov. 5, 7:23 a.m. | Republicans swept the Senate races Tuesday night, and come January, they will control the chamber for the first time in eight years.
Democratic incumbents fell right and left, even in seats that they had originally been favored to win. President Barack Obama’s poor approval rating — 42 percent in the last nationwide Gallup poll — dragged down candidates across the country in the face of a Republican wave.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who cruised to victory in his own re-election, is set to become the next majority leader, with a gain of at least seven seats — one more than the GOP needed.
As results were still pouring in, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran credited the GOP’s recruiting, encouraging and training its candidates.
“They are why we have the ability to deliver a majority, this evening, of Republicans to the United States Senate,” the Kansas Republican said. Full story
Control of the Senate comes down to just a few states, with Republicans in a position to pick up the necessary net six seats to win the majority.
As the results pour in Tuesday evening, here are the counties to watch in five of the most contested Senate races: Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Kansas, and Georgia.
Colorado: Arapahoe County and Jefferson County
These two Denver suburbs have served as bellwethers for statewide results in recent years, and probably will again as Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, fights to fend off Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican.
Jefferson County’s results in the past six cycles have mirrored the statewide results within a percentage point. Arapahoe is another strong indicator of the statewide results in past years, but it’s also a county where there’s often drop off in voters between presidential years and midterms. If the number of votes coming in from Arapahoe look similar to the vote total from 2012, it could be a good night for the Democrats. Full story
There are enough Democratic seats in play for Republicans to secure the Senate majority Tuesday, but there is also a chance the outcome won’t be known for days, weeks or even a couple months.
Needing to net six seats to win back control for the first time since George W. Bush’s second midterm in 2006, Republicans have taken advantage of a Democratic president in a similarly weak political position and have carved a path through 10 states. That means Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be celebrating more than his own re-election in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday night.
Still, with runoffs likely in two competitive states, potentially razor-thin margins in a few races and vote-counting complications in Alaska, there are several hurdles to one party having clear control of the Senate by the time the sun rises Wednesday on the East Coast. Full story
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
Updated 3:27 p.m., Nov. 1 | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have just unwittingly given Minority Leader McConnell something to smile about.
“What Joni Ernst would mean, coming to the United States Senate, is that Mitch McConnell would be the leader of the Senate, someone who agrees with her on virtually everything. Think what that would mean to our country,” Reid told progressives Saturday, when asked about Ernst’s chances in the open-seat race in Iowa.
That sure sounds like Reid believes his Republican leadership counterpart is going to win in Kentucky on Tuesday.
Reid then reprised familiar lines about the increase in the number of cloture motions and the history of the filibuster.
(Join us on Election Night: Live Stream With Analysis, Results and More at RollCall.com)
Early voting is playing a crucial role in several of the cycle’s most contested races for the Senate, where control hangs in the balance ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Senate Republicans must gain six seats to win the majority — an increasingly likely scenario.
Here’s a look at how both sides are faring in early voting in four of the most competitive Senate races:
Sen. Mark Udall, Democrat, vs. Rep. Cory Gardner, Republican.
Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Tilts Republican
When the myriad Republican presidential contenders start campaigning for 2016, their journeys might not look much different from this cycle.
From Iowa to New Hampshire, every Republican who is even remotely considering a 2016 bid hit the trail this year to help Senate contenders. What’s more, several competitive Senate races are this year conveniently in states that play host to early nominating contests in 2016.
Joni Ernst, the Republican running for the open seat in Iowa, has had almost every presidential hopeful campaign for her.
Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee in North Carolina, has had visits from even more of them. North Carolina’s legislature voted last year to move the primary to the Tuesday after South Carolina’s contest, placing it in the early group of presidential primary states.
Check out the chart for a full look at who appeared where:
The National Education Association will start airing a new ad Tuesday attacking Joni Ernst on education.
The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, features voters speaking directly to camera as a narrator attacks Ernst’s record on education.
“Joni Ernst is leading the fight to take funding from public school students and give it to wealthy private schools instead,” a male narrator says. Full story
Every week after President Barack Obama delivers his weekly address, the Republicans get a chance to respond. Because they don’t, of course, have a singular figure who would naturally address the nation each week, the speakers vary. So far in 2014, 11 Republican candidates — four House hopefuls and seven vying for Senate seats — have had the honor to take to YouTube and spread their party’s message.
In the fall of an election year, the GOP weekly address is an opportunity for Republicans to showcase some of their hopefuls on the ballot to a broader audience than the candidates can normally reach themselves — because not everyone pays attention to every Senate race, or to New York congressional campaigns.
“The weekly address is a great opportunity to showcase our diverse and talented group of candidates to the country,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which coordinates the speeches. He said the party’s “tremendous slate” allows the GOP to contrast its record with the president’s.
There are some common themes mentioned time and time again: dissatisfaction with the president’s job approval, the desire to expand domestic energy production, repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting government regulation.
Saturday’s address, posted at 6 a.m., will feature Will Hurd, the GOP nominee for Texas’ 23rd House district.
Here is a summary of the others.
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
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
Updated, 9:04 a.m. | TOPEKA, Kan. — With less than four weeks until Election Day, the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s independent expenditure arm is shifting resources to increase its investment in six states, including South Dakota and Georgia.
The NRSC has moved $1 million to South Dakota, plus another $1.45 million to Georgia.
In South Dakota, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made a $1 million television ad buy this week, on the heels of tightening poll numbers that showed its candidate, Rick Weiland, gaining ground. In Georgia, a new poll suggests a runoff is likely.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s decision Wednesday to drop $1 million into South Dakota, a race previously written off as a Republican win, was just the latest shakeup of the Senate landscape this week.
On Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut its financial investment in Michigan, where an open seat and a favorable national environment had created an opportunity for the party.
With the Senate majority at stake, the national campaign committees and their outside-group allies are constantly re-evaluating races and analyzing where their resources are most needed and best put to use. It’s all part of a real-life game of Tetris, as the groups meticulously watch each other’s moves and look to fit their ads and messaging into a larger picture.
Many of the moves by the NRSC, the DSCC and other outside groups likely will fly under the radar over the next 26 days — though with potential runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, Senate ads actually could be airing on TV into early next year. But others, including spending by the campaigns themselves, will offer definitive signs of a race’s potential competitiveness, as in South Dakota and Michigan.
With less than four weeks to go, here are some big questions about the Senate playing field and where the millions more in spending to come will land: Full story
The worst-kept secret on Capitol Hill? Senators miss committee hearings and meetings. All the time.
Unless the senator wields the gavel, he or she may only show up for five minutes, or when it is their turn to ask questions. The results include guffaw-inducing scenes where even senior lawmakers enter the wrong hearing room, misidentify a witness and question the wrong person on the other side of the dais.
But out on the campaign trail, a less-than-stellar attendance record has become the political ammo in a number of Senate races, with criticism of incumbent lawmakers flying in Alaska, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado and Iowa.
This cycle, much of the fodder has come from committee attendance records, at least compared to floor votes. It might look bad back home, but consistent committee attendance defies a reality on Capitol Hill. Full story