By Cathy Burke
Seven Democratic senators are hobbled by diminished fundraising and their support for an increasingly unpopular President Barack Obama — giving Republicans a clear shot at regaining the Senate, political consultant and policy adviser Karl Rove says.
In an op-ed piece published in the online Wall Street Journal on Wednesday night,
President George W. Bush’s former deputy chief of staff says other nail-biters are shaping up in both traditionally GOP and swing states.
If Republicans can claim 10 Democratic seats, “the chances of regaining Senate control and providing an important institutional check on Mr. Obama’s agenda during his last two years go up dramatically,” Rove writes.
Rove argues that the dollar figures show it’s possible, citing Federal Election Commission filings, news reports on campaign fundraising for the fourth quarter of 2013, and cash-on-hand Dec. 31.
Rove says that in the seven states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 where Democratic senators are on the ballot, filings show the leading GOP contenders have raised $6.5 million, compared with the Democrats — including four incumbents — who have drummed up $6.7 million during the last quarter.
Five Republicans in the targeted states outraised their Democratic rivals, including in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, where the Democratic senators are leaving, Rove writes.
Similarly, GOP contenders have collected more money in two of the four targeted states — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Democratic incumbents are in tough re-election bids.
Obama’s dismal job-approval rating also spells trouble for Democrats, he writes. It was stuck at an overall 42 percent for the week ending last Sunday, and is averaging about 36 percent in the seven Senate states up for grabs.
“If that’s the case on Election Day, he will likely sink his party’s candidates, who probably cannot run more than 5 points ahead of Mr. Obama’s rating,” Rove predicts.
According to Rove, voting patterns of senators who were ardent supporters of Obama’s policies might work against them as well.
Four “red state” Democratic senators running for re-election gave the president nearly absolute support, including Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and Alaska’s Mark Begich at 97 percent, followed by North Carolina’s Kay Hagan at 96 percent and Arkansas’s Mike Pryor at 90 percent.
“They are now trying to distance themselves from the president,” Rove says.
“These problems . . . could cause problems for Democratic senators in purple states as well,” Rove writes, noting that in 2010 Republicans picked up six Senate seats, five of which were won by Obama in 2008: Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Rove says four purple states “appear promising.”
In Michigan, Republican Terri Lynn Land has out-raised Democratic opponent Rep. Gary Peters in the last two quarters. In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who has backed Obama policies 99 percent of the time in 2013, has raised $3.4 million.
“What happens if former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown . . . runs?” Rove asks. “”He raised $28.2 million for his last campaign.”
In Minnesota, Democratic Sen. Al Franken rolled up a perfect record of backing Obama last year; in Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner was behind the president’s policies 97 percent of the time.
“Both could face Republican challengers — businessman Mike McFadden in Minnesota and former GOP National Chairman Ed Gillespie in Virginia — who can raise money and could take advantage of Mr. Obama’s unpopularity,” he said.
Other “purple possibilities” could include Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa, Rove writes.