Cook Political Report: Senate contests in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada Leaning for GOP

Cook Political Report Shifts Three U.S. Senate Races Towards GOP.

The political climate for Democrats continues to look more dismal with each passing week, as evidenced anew on Thursday after a top handicapping organization announced some changes in races for the U.S. Senate.

The Cook Political Report, which is considered the handicappers’ gold standard by many, has moved three races from leaning Democrat to ‘toss-ups’ which is a boon for the GOP, which just needs to flip one seat to regain control of the upper chamber.

The Hill reports:

The Senate contests in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada once leaned toward Democrats. That changed on Friday, when the nonpartisan election handicapper reclassified them as toss-up races, meaning that they could go in either direction. 

All three seats are currently held by Democratic incumbents, Sens. Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.). Republicans see those seats as their best pickup opportunities in 2022. 

“In Arizona, a crowded field of Republicans is vying for the nomination to challenge Kelly next year. While he remains among the best-funded Democratic Senate incumbents in the country, Kelly is still facing strong headwinds heading into his reelection bid, especially given Arizona’s relatively new status as a battleground,” the outlet continued.

In Georgia, meanwhile, former NFL great Hershel Walker is running against Warnock and already has the advantage of being supported by former President Donald Trump. In Nevada, Trump-backed GOP candidate Adam Laxalt will vie for the nomination to run against Cortez Masto.

National Republican organizations had already considered those three seats among the most vulnerable during next year’s midterms.

The Cook Political Report shift in these three seats comes as approval ratings for both President Biden and Vice President Harris have cratered.

A project from The Los Angeles Times that tracks opinion polls from around the nation showed in late October that she is less popular than President Biden and many of her own predecessors.

“As of Oct. 26, 42% of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Harris and 51% had an unfavorable opinion — a net rating of -9 percentage points, according to a Times average,” The Times said, adding:

Since taking office, Harris has been assigned one of the administration’s thorniest issues: stemming the influx of immigrants attempting to cross U.S. borders. Republicans have sought to make her the face of an issue that they believe could help them politically.

After taking on that role, Harris’ approval ratings began to decline, with unfavorable opinions surpassing favorable ones in June. Whether the decline is directly related to the immigration debate is uncertain, however, as the dip in her approval also corresponds to a small decline in President Biden’s job approval.

More recently, a survey from USA Today/Suffolk University found the two had even worse approval numbers.

“A year before the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans hold a clear lead on the congressional ballot as President Joe Biden’s approval rating sinks to a new low of 38%,” the paper reported.

The poll “found that Biden’s support cratered among the independent voters who delivered his margin of victory over President Donald Trump one year ago,” the paper added. “…[T]he survey illuminates the size of the hole Democrats need to dig out of as they look toward the elections in one year – on Nov. 8, 2022 – that will determine control of Congress and shape the second two years of Biden’s term.”

The polling data for Harris was even worse.

“Vice President Kamala Harris’ approval rating is 28% – even worse than Biden’s. The poll shows that 51% disapprove of the job she’s doing. One in 5, 21%, are undecided,” the paper said, citing the results.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 64%, say they don’t want Biden to run for a second term in 2024. That includes 28% of Democrats. Opposition to Trump running for another term in 2024 stands  at 58%, including 24% of Republicans.”

Those results came as Republicans made historic gains in statehouses and in a key gubernatorial race in Virginia, perhaps foreshadowing what Democrats should expect about a year from now.

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