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Polls: Senate races in Alaska and South Carolina are surprisingly competitive for Democrats

A couple of new Senate polls from the New York Times and Siena College this week show Democrats are pushing for an advantage in two traditionally conservative states – Alaska and South Carolina – as November 3 closes.

In Alaska, the Times / Siena poll found independent Senate candidate Al Gross – who is running as the Democratic candidate – subsequently sitting incumbent Republican Senator Dan Sullivan by about 8 percentage points, with third-party candidate John Howe supporting 10 percent.

And in South Carolina, Siena pollsters found that Senate Judge Lindsey Graham continues to face a much closer race than expected, with Democrat Jaime Harrison just 6 percentage points behind his rival and driving a wave of momentum. In 201

4, by comparison, Graham won re-election by more than 15 percentage points.

While Republican domains are still the favorites to win in Alaska and South Carolina, challengers Gross and Harrison have seen huge influxes of campaign cash in recent weeks – Harrison set a record at all times by raising $ 57 million in a single quarter. Data for Progress’s Sean McElwee recently told Vox’s Matthew Yglesias that it’s not too late for campaigns to use large cash injections – meaning that these large fundraising efforts could affect the end result of each race. And other recent polls show much tighter races in both states.

An Alaska poll released this week by Harstad Strategic Research found that Gross led Sullivan by 1 percentage point, even though it is well within the margin of error of 4 percentage points. A survey taken just before Harstad’s Alaska Survey Research poll from Sept. 25 to Oct. 4 found Sullivan ahead by 4 percentage points.

This close vote is reflected in experts’ predictions of the outcome in the state: Cook’s political report on Tuesday shifted his Alaska Senate’s race prospects from likely R to Lean R.

And J. Miles Coleman, associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told Vox’s Ella Nilsen in August: “I did not want to sleep in the Senate race.”

Cook now also rates South Carolina as a direct throw, and Data for Progress found Harrison with a 2 percentage point advantage over Graham in early October – again within the voting 3.5 percent margin of error. A Quinnipiac University poll taken in late September showed Harrison and Graham were tied, while a CBS News poll taken in the same period showed Graham had 1 percentage point lead.

That one Democratic candidate is even remotely close to their Republican rival with only 17 days until the election is striking. The results of both elections will not necessarily shake the way opinion polls suggest, but the fact that Alaska and South Carolina are playing for Democrats underscores how broad the democratic path to a potential Senate majority has grown.

Democratic chances for a Senate majority look up

To get the majority directly, Democrats need to pick up four seats in a chamber currently controlled by the GOP, 53 seats to 47 (including independent senators Bernie Sanders and Angus King, who hold an apartment with the Democrats).

The work of pollsters and forecasters suggests that a 2021 Democratic majority looks like an increasingly realistic outcome: According to FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast, Democrats directly favor Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina against Republican incumbents; Montana and Kansas – in addition to Alaska and South Carolina – could also be in play.

In all, Cook’s political reporter Jessica Taylor says Democrats can pick up as many as seven seats if everything breaks down on Nov. 3.

In some states, this optimism is reflected in spending.

In Colorado, for example, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is reducing its investment in current Republican Senator Cory Gardner. The group has spent less than $ 150,000 in the state through the first half of October, according to the Denver Post, compared to millions spent in Iowa, Montana and elsewhere.

And a Democratic PAC is also pulling its investment in Colorado – for the opposite reason. This group, the Senate Majority PAC, is reportedly so familiar with Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper, leading by a comfortable margin extending into the two digits, that it moves funding it allocated to the state to other races.

However, there are some areas of concern for Democrats. In Alabama, where Democratic Senator Doug Jones won an unlikely victory over Republican Roy Moore in 2018, it is preferable for Republicans to deprive the Democrat incumbent. And the race in Michigan, where Democratic Senator Gary Peters is ready for re-election, is also becoming competitive.

Joe Biden’s agenda may rest on a Democratic Senate majority

Although the removal of President Donald Trump is the Democrats’ highest priority, control of the Senate may prove almost as important on its way into 2020.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell – who is expected to win re-election in November – is handing out his title as “Grim Reaper” in the U.S. Senate. And if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes office in January with McConnell still the majority leader, it’s likely that democratic priorities – such as health care, climate change and voting rights – are dead on arrival.

The good news for Democrats is that Gross and Harrison are not the only Democratic candidates swimming in money. From July 1 to the end of September, the democratic fundraising platform ActBlue handled $ 1.5 billion in donations, ensuring that the party’s slate of candidates will be very well funded over the last three weeks of the race.

These current successes and polls have some Republicans sounding the alarm: Republican pollster David Flaherty told the Denver Post this week that “the train wreck and the implosion of the president will bring down a historic number of other Republican candidates, and if you do not make it believe that then you have your head in the sand. And Texas Senator Ted Cruz raised the specter of “a carnage of Watergate proportions” for his party on CNBC last Friday.

As always, polls can be short-lived – they are a snapshot, not a forecast of how the race will shake on election day. Things can change and suddenly. But there is not much time left in the race, and the current situation has many Democrats feeling confident in their chances for a Senate majority.

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