And Democrats are not just playing defense. Party operatives point to competitive Republican-held seats in Kentucky and Georgia as a way to help stem the GOP tide. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is running just three points ahead of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, a political newcomer whose campaign revolves almost solely around unseating the powerful and longtime Republican incumbent. Grimes’ challenge is an uphill one, but her presence forces McConnell, the ultimate campaign strategist, to spend vast sums of money and time.
In Georgia, businessman David Perdue leads Democrat Michelle Nunn, but there, too, the margin is a narrow one — 4.2 points in the RCP average. The race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is rated a tossup, and Democrats hope the state’s changing demographics work in their favor. (However, Nunn’s campaign attracted some negative attention recently for the leak of a memo that candidly outlined her vulnerabilities.)
Like other Democrats this cycle, Nunn is running on her family legacy (her father was a popular senator). She and Democrats in the state are working to bring down Perdue’s numbers by focusing on his business practices and by painting him as a partisan. Both candidates are considered political newcomers and will continue to be well financed. The race is certainly a challenge for Democrats, and the absence of a presidential election makes strong turnout among key constituencies difficult to achieve. But Democrats point to the NRSC’s recent ad buy in the state as evidence of its competitiveness.
Democrats believe that if they can take one of these two Republican seats, they will have blocked the GOP’s path to the majority.