Decision Time Approaching

New polling from various Senate races will soon force the national GOP strategists into a major decision.

After the September 13th New Hampshire primary when retired Army General Don Bolduc defeated the more established candidate, state Senate President Chuck Morse(R-Salem), the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, Florida Senator Rick Scott, publicly stated that the organization planned to follow through with the $9 million previously reserved media buy. He said the NRSC would keep the state on the target list, though many believe that Bolduc is not strong enough to win the general election.

Currrent circumstances may dictate a different course, however. Post-primary polling finds Gen. Bolduc significantly trailing Sen. Maggie Hassan (D). The first of the general election surveys, all released last week, came from three individual polling entities, Emerson College, the University of New Hampshire, and the American Research Group, as previously noted.

Sen. Hassan held a lead over Gen. Bolduc of between 8 and 13 percentage points within those studies, since Emerson reported a 51-40% split and UNH, a closer but still significant, 49-41%. ARG posted an even larger 53-40% margin, but that too is well within the realm of the others. In a short election cycle, with the challenger commanding far less in campaign resources – the pre-primary report found Sen. Hassan holding $7.3 million in her committee account and Gen. Bolduc having only slightly more than $92,000 – the challenge to defeat an incumbent becomes even more daunting.

Now, we see reports surfacing that Gen. Bolduc had turned “aggressive against the police” in an incident that occurred at his home in 2018. This is just one more obstacle that puts the retired military man on the defensive, making fundraising that much more difficult, and winning the Senate race on November 8th an even longer shot.

Turning to the west and south, we see Republican prospects improving. Nevada former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) has topped Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in the last five consecutive published polls, from Emerson College, Data for Progress, The Trafalgar Group, Big Data Poll, and Insider Advantage, but with leads of just one to four percentage points.

In Georgia, Republican former professional football player Herschel Walker has come back into range, leading and tied with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in two of that last three polls and behind by only two points in the other. Similarly, Republican Blake Masters has trailed Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D) in two of the last four published polls by just one and two points.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, along with the decided national money advantage the Democrats’ hold, suggests there is only one ultimate decision to soon be made.

Therefore, expect the NRSC to cast aside Bolduc, thus conceding the New Hampshire race to Sen. Hassan, and transferring the saved media dollars into the three states where it appears the party candidates have legitimate victory prospects.

Even with a loss in New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania if the current surge from Republican Mehmet Oz gets close to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) but still falls short, the GOP would claim the Senate majority with victories in two of the three currently tight states of Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.

Of course, this assumes that Republican incumbents Marco Rubio* (R-FL), Chuck Grassley* (R-IA), and Ron Johnson* (R-WI) all hold their competitive seats, along with the party holding their volatile open seats in North Carolina and Ohio. At this point, these latter races are all trending upward for the GOP but must remain in their column if the party is to have any reasonable chance of creating a new Senate majority in the next Congress.

* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle. 

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