Senate races across the country are heating up down the wire in the last weekend of the election season. What is local coverage saying and how does national politics factor in to the races?
- Tom Tillis (R): incumbent, former Speaker of NC House of Representatives
- Cal Cunningham (D): former State Senator
- RealClearPolitics’ polling average has Cunningham on top of Tillis by 3.8% while FiveThirtyEight models show Cunningham is a slight favorite.
- Coming down the stretch, national and local outlets have noticed Tillis’ barnstorming while Cunningham “lies low” in the wake of a texting scandal that revealed an extramarital affair.
- North Carolina station WXII reported this race is the most expensive Senate race in history, with $200 million spent.
- NBC News considers the North Carolina contest one of five that will determine control of the Senate.
- Newspaper endorsements are rare in this race. Cunningham has received what looks to be the lone endorsement from IndyWeek.
- Lindsey Graham (R): Incumbent, former Congressman, Senator since 2003
- Jaime Harrison (D): former House staffer, lobbyist, Chairman of South Carolina Democratic Party
- October polling has results ranging from Harrison ahead by 2 points to Graham leading by 9 points.
- FiveThirtyEight gives Graham a 77% chance of retaining his seat.
- Columbia daily paper The State offers a rundown of the race, in which both sides pitch the election as having stakes higher than previously thought in a state in which Democrats have been “lambs to the slaughter” in statewide races.
- Harrison and Graham held their final debate last week, which was described as “fiery.”
- South Carolina’s oldest newspaper, The State, endorsed Jaime Harrison last week.
Georgia – Full Term Election
- David Perdue (R): incumbent, former businessperson
- Jon Ossoff (D): former documentary producer, former congressional staffer
- RealClearPolitics’ polling average has Ossoff leading Perdue by less than a point.
- FiveThirtyEight has Perdue “slightly favored” in their modeling.
- Incumbent Republican David Perdue has taken heat for skipping the final debate after a remark by Ossoff about Perdue “went viral”.
- CNN published an opinion piece saying Georgia’s “transformation” into a toss-up state for both Senate races and the Presidential race “could spell trouble for Trump.”
- According to Ballotpedia, Georgia news outlets have been found to make endorsements in this race.
Georgia – Special Election
- Kelly Loeffler (R): incumbent (appointed), former businessperson
- Doug Collins (R): Congressman, former member of Georgia House of Representatives, veteran
- Raphael Warnock (D): pastor, community organizer
- Georgia’s jungle system allows for an open primary, with the top two candidates running in a run-off if a candidate does not receive at least 50% of the vote.
- RealClearPolitics averages have Democrat Warnock at the top with 37% while Loeffler and Collins receive 22.8% and 21.8 respectively. Other candidates receive roughly 10% collectively.
- FiveThirtyEight’s simulations have Warnock ahead in 63% of scenarios. This does not predict results in a run-off.
- Warnock is expected to take the majority of Democratic votes, and his rise to credibly challenge a Republican for the Senate seat is being heralded by left-leaning and national outlets.
- Loeffler made headlines recently for claiming she was unfamiliar with the “Access Hollywood” tape that landed President Trump in hot water late in the 2016 election.
- Collins has been barnstorming the state, with recent headlines including his decision to campaign with GOP operative and convicted felon Roger Stone and a gentle reprimand from the Air Force for not including required disclaimers in political advertising with military insignia or candidates in uniform.
- Similar to the full-term Senate contest between Perdue and Ossoff, no major media outlets have made endorsements in this race.
- Susan Collins (R): incumbent, Senator for Maine since 1997
- Sara Gideon (D): Maine House of Representatives since 2012, Freeport Town Council 2009-2012
- The only late October poll has Gideon over Collins by 4 points. Gideon has led in all polling listed by RealClearPolitics since February 2020.
- FiveThirtyEight rates Gideon as “slightly favored.”
- Local coverage notes Gideon’s campaign message has centered around healthcare while Collins touts her seniority and efforts to bolster small business.
- Collins made headlines recently by saying while there is “system racism” in the United States, she does not believe it is a problem in Maine.
- The Washington Post detailed how ranked-choice voting, a voting system unique to Maine, could affect the race.
- The only publication to endorse in this race is the monthly magazine Mainer, which endorsed independent candidate Lisa Savage.
© Dallas Gerber, 2020