Rick Scott: Senate Republicans have path to 55-seat majority

GREENSBORO, N.C. — National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (Fla.) says Republicans will likely control 52 Senate seats next year and have a pathway to a 55-seat majority, given how recent polls show GOP candidates picking up momentum.

Scott is voicing a more confident view of the Nov. 8 midterm elections than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has predicted the battle for the Senate will be “really close either way” and that whatever party wins is likely to control a very narrow majority.

“It starts right here, we’re going to get 52 Republican senators, we have to win here,” Scott said at a get-out-to-vote event with Senate candidate Rep. Ted Budd (N.C.) at the Republican Black Community Center. “I think we can get 53, 54, 55.“

“The energy is on our side. People are fed up with the Biden agenda,” he declared to applause from a roomful of Republican activists and supporters.

A new East Carolina University poll released Tuesday showed Budd leading his Democratic opponent, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, by 6 points. An East Carolina University poll from early September showed Budd with only a 3-point lead.

Republicans would have to run the table of Senate races and knock off Democratic incumbents in five races while protecting their vulnerable seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina in order to build a five-seat Senate majority next year.

The most vulnerable Democratic incumbents are Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Raphael Warnock in Georgia, followed by Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona. After that, New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan is considered next-most vulnerable, followed by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who is leading his Republican opponent by 6 points in a recent Marist poll.

Scott, however, thinks Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) might also be in trouble if the GOP wave is as big as he suspects it could be next month.

Scott, who was one of the first Senate Republicans to identify inflation as something that would become a major issue in the 2022 midterms, sees that issue — along with crime — as pushing independent women, a key swing bloc, to GOP candidates.

He said that’s a big reason why Senate Republican candidates are closing in their Democratic rivals in public polls in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Connecticut.

“If you look at the weekly polls and do we lot of polls, every week is getting better,” Scott explained in an interview with The Hill after the event.

He pointed to the most recent Marquette poll showing Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) leading Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) by 6 points, a substantial improvement over the 1-point lead he held over Barnes in a Marquette poll conducted in early September.

“Then you look at here, Ted’s been consistently up,” he said, ticking off the North Carolina Senate race as a likely GOP win. “That keeps us at 50-50.”

“Then you look at Herschel Walker, you look at all the polls, Herschel’s up three,” he said, without specifying exactly what polls he had in mind. “Georgia, we’ll pick that one up.”

Scott arrived in North Carolina on Thursday after campaigning for Walker earlier in the day.

A recent Landmark Communications poll showed Walker tied with Warnock, at 46 percent support.

An average of recent public polls compiled by Real Clear Politics shows Warnock leading Walker by 2.4 points, but that does not include private party and candidate polling.

In Arizona, Scott said Senate GOP candidate “Blake [Masters] is barely behind.”

“We’ve defined Kelly,” he added referring to the incumbent Democrat.

A Republican-leaning Daily Wire-Trafalgar poll of 1,078 likely voters conducted from Oct. 16-17 shows Masters, a venture capital executive backed by former President Trump, trailing Kelly by only 1 point. He trails Kelly in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls by 2.5 points.

Some Senate Republican strategists believe that Republican gubernatorial Kari Lake has a solid lead over Democrat Katie Hobbs and could help Masters down ballot.

“Adam Laxalt has been up consistently, every one,” Scott added, referring to polls showing former Nevada state Attorney General Adam Laxalt with a lead over Cortez Masto.

A USA Today-Suffolk poll conducted from Oct. 4-7 showed Cortez Masto with a 2-point lead ahead of Laxalt, though a CBS News-YouGov poll conducted from Oct. 14-19 showed Laxalt with a 1-point lead. Laxalt also leads Cortez Masto by 1.2 points in the Real Clear Politics average.

“Joe O’Dea’s barely behind, Tiffany Smiley is down two” points, Scott added, referring to the Senate Republican challengers in Colorado and Washington state.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman has told GOP officials in Washington for the past year that he sees the Senate contest there as a “sleeper” race.

In New Hampshire, Scott said “there’s a poll out showing [GOP challenger Don] Bolduc down two” and argued that “Hassan’s numbers have been horrible as far as her approval” rating.

“I’m optimistic it’s going to be a good night and we have good candidates, they’re running good races. There’s a lot of energy,” he said, predicting a wave of Republican wins on election night.

A Trafalgar Group poll conducted from Sept. 26-30 showed Hassan leading Bolduc, who previously claimed Trump won the 2020 election before reversing his position, by 3 points. The Real Clear Politics average has Hassan in the lead by nearly 6 points.

Democrats think that Bolduc’s past statements make him unelectable, but some Senate Republican strategists think he could win if there’s a GOP tsunami.

McConnell, who has hedged expectations for months, sounded a much more cautious tone before Congress went on an extended recess before the election.

“In every election every year, this year, past years, it’s great to have terrific candidates. We’re in a bunch of close races. I think we have a 50-50 shot of getting the Senate back. It’s going to be really, really close either way, in my view,” he told reporters in the Capitol on Sept. 28.

Democrats were sounding confident last month about keeping their Senate majority. Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in early September that his party had a chance of controlling 52 Senate seats next year.

Democrats got a shot of bad news this week when a New York Times-Siena College poll of 792 voters nationwide showed that independent women are moving away from Democrats compared to a month ago.

Self-identified women voters of no party affiliation now favor Republicans by 18 points, a big shift from September, when they favored Democrats by 14 points.

But leading Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have criticized the poll’s methodology and small sample size.

Via The Hill