Which party controls the United States Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama's Presidency will be determined in just over two weeks — and I've never seen so many critical races so close this late in any election cycle.
The Republicans need to win a net of six seats — and in the Real Clear Politics averages of recent polls, six races are within three points or less. In only one of them is the Democrat ahead — but how fragile is the Republican lead? Then there are four more races where the margin is in the 4 or 5 point range — with Republicans ahead in three of those four. Given an average margin of error of 3 or 4 points, almost all of the ten races cited could be described as technically tied. What's going on here?
Assuming for the sake of argument that these averages of polls are reasonably accurate — and averages of polls should usually be more accurate than any one poll by itself — and further assuming that they stay about the same for the final two weeks — what can we expect?
There are two main variables that the polls don't measure with any precision and that are likely to determine the winners: the intensity of voters' interest in voting in these races and the effectiveness of the so-called "ground game" of the two parties — that is, the door-to-door canvassing and get-out-the-vote operations.
On intensity, Republicans have the edge. Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber of The Tarrance Group described it this way: The vote intensity of Republican voters is strong — a net twelve-points more than their Democratic counterparts. Overall, sixty-two percent (62%) of voters say they are extremely likely to vote in the November elections. However, Republicans (69% extremely likely) outpace Democrats (57% extremely likely). In fact, this intensity advantage exceeds where Republicans were in the September 2010 Battleground Poll.
In addition, Republicans hold a four-point advantage (46%-42%) on the generic Congressional ballot. In states with a competitive US Senate race, Republicans hold a sixteen point advantage (52%-36%) on this generic ballot.
Not only are Republicans getting stronger support on the generic ballot from "hard" Republicans (93%) than Democrats are getting from "hard" Democrats (89%), "soft" Republicans are voting a net sixteen-points stronger for the generic Republican on the ballot than "soft" Democrats are voting for the generic Democrat. By any measure, Republicans are fired up and ready to deliver victories to their candidates in November, with the strong backing of Independent (+15-points) and middle class voters (+11-points).
On the other hand, both the Democrats' ground game and their mastery of digital communications techniques are still believed to be better than Republicans'. What's that worth? Most political pros say that, together, they're worth between 2 and 5 percent. With ten Senate races within about 5 points, these below-the-radar strategies could well erase the Republicans' slim positive margins, and keep the Senate in Harry Reid's bitterly partisan hands.
But potentially even more powerful than the outright majority on votes is the power that the majority has to set hearings and issue subpoenas. In Benghazi, ObamaCare, immigration, IRS abuses, military and foreign policy contention and confusion, Senate hearings can do a lot to either expose or suppress scandals and examples of waste, fraud and abuse. In fact, the perception of President Barack Obama's entire presidency can be said to ride on the outcome of the Senate races in these ten states:
Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
American Radio Journal is heard on radio stations in each of those states — so, dear listeners, it all comes down to you. Are you motivated? Do you want to change the Senate's leadership? Do you want another two years of Harry Reid's leadership? Please make a 100% commitment to vote on November 4th.
(Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring, USA.)