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Republicans have a problem when it comes to their Senate races: report

This week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confessed to CNN he doesn't think Republicans will win back the Senate in 2024 despite a number of retirements and Democratic Senators being up for reelection. The slightly right-of-center Beltway site Roll Call has a suggestion as to why.

Writing Thursday, elections analyst Nathan Gonzales explained the GOP has a severe candidate problem: "They have a lot more gaps in their recruitment effort."

"The GOP needs a net gain of just two seats for a majority, but they can control the Senate by gaining a single seat and winning the White House, because the new vice president could break tie votes," the report explained.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has abandoned the Democratic Party after being criticized for her cozy relationship with the GOP. Roll Call thinks she will split the Democratic vote in Arizona, allowing a pathway for a Republican to win. But the April Morning Consult poll revealed Sinema is actually gaining ground with Republicans, not with Democratic voters. OH Predictive Insights from Feb. showed Democratic challenger Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ) was in the lead with all candidate match-up possibilities. According to the GOP's targets, even they aren't sure it could be a pickup for them.

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Then there's Texas.

"With Allred in the race, Texas should be considered competitive now as well," Roll Call explained.

The reason comes from the overwhelming disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with his voters, as former Republican Tim Miller from the Bulwark explained last week. The last time Cruz was up for reelection was in a year when Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) was also running. He compared the two races and found that Cruz lost 500,000 voters compared to Abbott. He explained it isn't a Republican vs. Democrat problem. It's a Ted Cruz problem.

"They had pretty indistinguishable positions. Cruz only wins by two points. This shows he's just that unpopular, right? It wasn't even about the policies, it was about people don't like Ted Cruz," Miller explained.

"Republicans have an even better chance of gaining control of the Senate than they did in 2022, but the party proved last cycle that it’s possible to fumble good opportunities, particularly with underwhelming candidates," said Roll Call.

“It wasn’t people getting in late. It was a function of divisive, bloody primaries,” the site cited one GOP strategist who compared previous election cycles.

Roll Call claimed Republicans are strident in believing that the abusive primaries will never happen again. Last week, a possible GOP candidate against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told a crowd an endorsement from Donald Trump isn't all it once was.

“There is another 20 percent that care about who he endorses, but that’s not going to be the decision maker. And then there’s probably another 60 percent of the party that doesn’t care who he endorses,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, according to a report from Politico. But with Donald Trump running in 2024, that might cause an election more like 2016 and 2020 than 2018 or 2022. After all, J. D. Vance was the only one of Trump's endorsed candidates that made it in 2022.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Republican senatorial campaign committee (NRSC), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) has already put his name behind Trump for 2024.

"In any sane world, endorsing Trump on Don Jr.’s Triggered pod would be grounds for replacing Daines with someone, anyone, who was awake in 2022. It should be a disqualifying act," wrote Miller in his Bulwark column last month. "Politico should be littered with pieces sourcing privately concerned Republicans on background about how they are worried the NRSC chair has lost his mind."

Behind the scenes, however, Daines is begging Trump to stay out of primary races, the Washington Examiner said.

"Sure seems like that would be helpful based on our lack of success in 2022," the report cited Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD).

But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has the ear of Trump, called it absurd.

"If I were [Daines], I’d focus on his own election, but I doubt if he’ll take that advice," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “You need to learn from your past mistakes. If you don’t make adjustments, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, it’s insanity.”

Daines isn't up for reelection in 2024.

Roll Call reported that the NRSC is looking to West Virginia, Ohio and Montana as the states where they'll make gains. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is among America's most unpopular Senators, Morning Consult reported last month. The same report reveals the Republican governor, Jim Justice, is actually more popular with Democrats than Manchin.

Montana might seem like a pickup, but as of April, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has a 58 percent approval rating, the report also said. Finding a Republican with that level of approval in Montana might be difficult. Even FiveThirtyEight warned it probably wasn't going to work.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wasn't in a great place at the beginning of the year, with just 43 percent approval, the same Morning Consult polls showed. But his disapproval was only at 30 percent. Since then, the state has suffered a number of ecological disasters at the hands of major corporations. Brown's populist history and advocacy of everyday Americans could benefit him as he tries to distinguish himself from the GOP and from President Joe Biden.

As noted, "just two GOP candidates, both from the Cleveland area, have announced: state Sen. Matt Dolan and businessman Bernie Moreno. Both also ran in 2022, although Moreno dropped out before that primary election in May. Two more major potential candidates – Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Rep. Warren Davidson, a Dayton-area congressman – have yet to decide."

The report explained that by this point in 2022, there were four major candidates in the race going strong in an open seat. This doesn't bode well.

“It’s not like it was an open race with a somewhat unknown Tim Ryan,” Republican political strategist Terry Casey told “[Brown] is a known quantity, and is a guy who can raise tens of millions and who will work and campaign hard and say anything to get elected.”


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