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GOP gains in key state election forecasts show bad news for Democrats

Voters cast their ballots on the first day of early voting in Atlanta, Georgia, October 17, 2022.

Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

Republican candidates appear to be making gains in the final sprint to the November midterms, with new election forecasts in key swing states and partisan strongholds flashing warning signs for Democrats.

In Ohio, 40% of likely voters said that they would prefer both the House and Senate to be controled by Republicans versus 33% who would prefer to have Democrats in charge, according to a Spectrum News/Siena College poll released Monday.

That result came even as respondents in the same Ohio poll were split, 46% to 46%, on the two Senate candidates in fierce competition for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. The poll, conducted by phone to 644 likely Ohio voters between Oct. 14 and Oct. 19, has an overall margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.1 percentage points.

Republican Senate hopeful J.D. Vance, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, maintains a polling advantage over former Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who is seen as an underdog in a state Trump won handily in both 2016 and 2020.

While the latest poll shows a tight race, the trend is in Vance’s favor: Siena’s survey last month showed Ryan up by three percentage points.

Voters’ preference for a GOP-controlled Congress, meanwhile, underscores Democrats’ struggles in an election cycle where the incumbent president’s party tends to be disfavored — and where high inflation has consistently held as a major issue across demographic lines.

Even in reliably blue states, Democrats’ slim congressional majorities are under threat.

The Cook Political Report on Monday changed its rating for New York’s 17th Congressional District to “Toss Up” from “Lean Democrat,” as internal polls reportedly show Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in a major fight against Republican Mike Lawler.

Maloney is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a five-term incumbent in the House. He had drawn criticism after the state’s messy redistricting process spurred him to seek reelection in a neighboring district, pushing out progressive freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones.

A Republican super PAC recently started spending millions of dollars in Maloney’s district, spurring Democrats to boost their own spending in the race, the Washington Post reported.

Another Spectrum News/Siena poll released Monday, this one from Texas, shows incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott holding a sizable lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, 52% to 43%. Abbott’s steady lead appears unaffected by the O’Rourke campaign’s record-breaking fundraising efforts. The pollster surveyed 649 likely Texas voters between Oct. 16 and Oct. 19, and carries a plus-or-minus 5.1-percentage point margin of error.

Democrats have fought to combat relentless GOP messaging on crime and the economy, especially the high inflation that has dogged President Joe Biden’s first term in office.

Biden’s approval rating, while improved from its summer lows, remains underwater and is seen as a potential drag on some Democrats fighting for survival in battleground states.

Democrats had grasped a lead in the race for the Senate over the summer, as Trump-backed Republicans in a handful of pivotal races — especially the Senate races in Pennsylvania and Georgia — looked to be trailing.

But both of those Republicans, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker, have shored up their polling deficits and now appear to be neck-and-neck with their Democratic rivals. Accordingly, Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate now look much tighter, according to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker.

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