In a recruiting victory for Democrats, former Gov. Phil Bredesen announced today that he will run for the open seat created by the retirement of GOP U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. Bredesen's announcement puts the race into the Toss Up column, a rating change that has larger implications for the 2018 Senate map.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota announced today that he will resign his Senate seat “in the coming weeks” in the wake of multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior toward women that ranged from unwanted advances to groping. The incidents occurred over a number of years dating back to before he was elected to the Senate. The first allegations came to light three weeks ago and came to a head yesterday when several of his female colleagues called on him to resign. At least 28 of the Senate's 48 Democrats have said that Franken should step down.
This weekend, two very different developments jolted races in Democratic-leaning seats. Late Friday, Buzzfeed News reported allegations that freshman Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen (NV-04) made repeated unwanted sexual advances towards his former campaign finance director. Both Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC Chair Ben Ray Lujan have called on him to resign, but so far Kihuen has given no indication of his future plans.
We are reportedly at a “watershed” moment on the issue of sexual harassment. Women, emboldened by the Harvey Weinstein revelations, have come out of the shadows of shame and stigma to tell their own stories of harassment and assault. It's also been a time of “reckoning” for Democrats who once excused or defended President Bill Clinton over accusations of abuse and harassment. From an electoral standpoint, this new focus on empowering and energizing women voters should be an opportunity for Democrats.
In theory, wave elections are very exciting for political analysts and aficionados. They tend to feature lots of upsets, which unfold in cascading fashion, adding to the drama. But in other ways, they are fairly humdrum because there is usually plenty of warning that they’re coming. As in the Morton Salt ads back in the day, “When it rains, it pours.” The bad news for one party gets pretty relentless; it’s like hearing the same song played over and over.
The last two weeks have seen some significant movement in Democrats favor. First, there were the impressive results from last Tuesday's elections. This week, we’ve seen two polls — one by Quinnipiac and one by Marist — that show Democrats with a congressional ballot advantage of +13 to +15. Three other recent polls — ABC/Washington Post, Fox, and NBC/Wall Street Journal — show Democrats with an advantage of anywhere from +7 to +15.
These are political wave numbers.
This article has been updated since it was first published to include new information about the future of the race.
Revelations today that four women have accused former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, the GOP in the special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, of sexual harassment in a series of events that occurred more than 30 years ago has put this race into limbo. With the December 12 special election just 32 days away, GOP strategists are scrambling to figure out their options.
In a blow to House Republicans, popular moderate GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) announced he will not seek another term in 2018, citing both term limits on his chairmanship of the House Aviation subcommittee and a "vocal and obstinate minority within both parties" that has "hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation." His decision moves his South Jersey seat all the way from Solid Republican to Toss Up.
For years, the best tool to predict which party will gain House seats in any given election has been the so-called "generic ballot test." The "generic" is a poll question that asks voters which party they’d support in the upcoming congressional election. While it can’t tell us exactly how many seats one party or the other should expect to gain/lose, it does give us a good idea of the range we can expect. And, right now, Democrats should be very happy about what they are seeing. The RealClear Politics average shows Democrats with a whopping 10.5 percent lead on the generic.