With the midterm elections taking place in two weeks, we might expect the media to start dialing back predictions of a “blue wave,” after several months of stoking that expectation. No outlet is further ahead of the curve than Politico, however. Last week they warned that the GOP might hold the House after all, and this weekend pointed out that Democrats could end up with a net loss of seats in Minnesota.
Today they’re throwing cold water on Democrats’ only potential to unseat a Republican incumbent in the Senate, noting that Dean Heller “proves resilient against ‘blue wave'”:
The Nevadan is the only Republican senator running in a state Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, and defeating him is central to any Democratic hopes for winning control of the Senate or preventing Republicans from expanding their 51-49 majority. But Heller has narrowly led Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen in recent independent polling, and Republicans are increasingly bullish about his chances to pull out a win — even as Democrats nationally challenge for control of the House.
National Democrats are flocking to Nevada to prevent a massive disappointment in a state that has gone blue in three successive presidential elections — but proven tougher for the party in midterm years. Former President Barack Obama is headlining a rally for Rosen and the entire Democratic ticket Monday afternoon, just after ex-Vice President Joe Biden rallied at the local Culinary Union headquarters on Saturday, the first day of early voting. Sen. Bernie Sanders will campaign for the congresswoman later this week.
Republicans countered with a visit this weekend from President Donald Trump, who blistered Rosen and Democrats in the remote northern city of Elko, a rural area where high Republican turnout could be a major boost for Heller.
The catalyst for this pessimism is the Emerson poll taken nearly two weeks ago. Heller had never trailed in the race outside the margin of error, bu the last three polls in RCP’s aggregation gave him a lead for the first time since July, and Emerson’s put him up by seven, 48/41. Heller has been blasting Rosen as a stooge of big-pocket California donors and especially of Nancy Pelosi.
Democrats have tried to marginalize Heller by tying him to Donald Trump, but Heller has embraced Trump since getting a full-throated #MAGA primary challenge from Danny Tarkanian. Rosen’s campaign hammers Heller on Trump, but she talks out of both sides of her mouth when it comes to party leadership too, Reid Epstein reports at the Wall Street Journal:
Ms. Rosen has her own mixed messages about her relationship with her party’s leadership as she offers different appeals to different Nevada audiences. Her English-language TV ads say she “stood up to Nancy Pelosi, ” the House Democratic leader. In Spanish, her TV ads say she “stood up to Trump.”
“In different communities, you go in and you try to meet people where they are and talk to them about issues they care about the most,” Ms. Rosen explained.
Ahem. If the situation were reversed, the media would accuse Heller of demeaning Hispanic voters, or at the very least misleading them. As it is, though, it shows that Rosen’s political affiliation holds more trouble than benefit at the moment. If it didn’t, Rosen wouldn’t need to run away from Pelosi, who seems pretty sanguine about her chances of holding the gavel next Congress if Democrats win control of the House.
The Pelosi Dance alone suggests that Democrats are seeing their chances in Nevada slipping away, too. It’ll take more than one poll to feel confident in Heller’s survival chances, but the fact that Rosen never put him away before the recent surge in Republican enthusiasm is another indicator that Politico’s pessimism might be justified.