Who win the battle for the North Carolina Senate seat?

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It’s no secret that the Senate is up for grabs this November, and next up in my prediction series is Senator Richard Burr versus State Representative Deborah Ross. North Carolina has been notorious for tough Senate campaigns as of late. In 2014, former Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House Thom Tillis defeated Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan. Outside money flooded the state, and $84,517,806 was spent from outside sources, while total spending totaled over an astounding 100 million dollars.

To me, I perceive North Carolina to be a solid Republican state, however, this cycle has been extremely interesting for politics in the state. HB-2 has caused turmoil, and Governor Pat McCrory has taken an ideological stand that ultimately could cost him his job, and lead to further issues for Burr and Trump. Burr has worked hard to distance himself from the bill, which has been moderately successful. To add, Clinton is surging in North Carolina, and I would bet that she’ll take North Carolina on election day. To add to this tumultuous situation, Democrats are leading big in both the presidential and governor’s race in early voting.

Ross also benefitted by campaigning with President Obama and Hillary Clinton during their time in North Carolina. Burr isn’t exactly the most popular senator at the moment. A key part of Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland’s obstruction, Burr’s conservative regimen may be too much for North Carolinians. As the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I think Burr has done a solid job. In terms of the national security set up, it’s not a massively important position, but I believe his tenure has been largely positive as the committee chairman. One thing I respect about Burr and his campaign was that he didn’t start officially campaigning until October of this year, citing that ongoing business in the Senate was more important due to his commitment of serving the people of the Tar Heel state.

For these reasons alone, Senator Burr finds himself extremely vulnerable. Surprisingly, Ross is setting the pace by a wide margin in the race according to early voting exit polls. Nobody would have expected that Ross would mount a serious challenge, but with the NRSC and DSCC among several outside groups have pumped millions into the race once more, these results surely won’t hold.

Do not count Burr out. Polling averages have Burr still setting the pace by a couple of points. Plus, Burr’s incumbent name recognition will certainly help, considering that Ross has barely, if any at all. The Burr campaign also maintains a large cash advantage, and will surely increase spending as the election nears. Democrats are currently out-fundraising Republicans nationwide, but I doubt much of this money flows into North Carolina considering the early voting totals for Clinton. The NRSC just announced a multi-million dollar ad-buy to aid Burr in the coming weeks.

It appears as if the Democrats early voting operation has been stronger than the Republicans in the state, but this is normal for candidates who appear to be trailing. I’m sure there is a reason for this: my guess is that the Ross campaign’s internal polling project her as trailing Burr. Recently, Burr has been up in the polls, and his current RealClearPolitics average has him up on Ross by 3.2 points on average (as of 12p.m. eastern on 10/27). But, many accurate polls have Burr winning by a few points. They’re mostly within the margin of error, but the sheer quantity of polls that has Burr leading definitely says something to me.

In terms of overall fit, both candidates do not fit the North Carolina constituency well. Ross is an unapologetic liberal, while the same can be said about Burr’s conservative principles. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burr wins the Senate race, Roy Cooper outpaces McCrory for Governor, and Hillary will beat Trump. I can’t see North Carolina going straight Democrat this November.

But, Ross is a former lobbyist for the ACLU. I am very surprised that Senator Burr’s camp hasn’t hit Ross harder on this point, similar to the way that I’m very surprised that Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb hasn’t hit Democrat John Gregg harder on his time as a lobbyist and for his work with Enron. However, Ross seems to be winning the fight online, with the NRSC’s branding “Radical Ross” failing to resonate with voters.

I find it extremely hard to predict this race. Part of me feels that Ross’ early voting numbers may be insurmountable for Burr on election day. But on the other hand, I feel that Burr’s name recognition, superior fundraising, incumbency will carry him over the line. Across the country, we are seeing people splitting their tickets. One example is that many Trump voters will vote Democrat for Senate, or people will vote for Clinton, but a Republican for Senate. Thus, the numbers at the top of the ticket may not condemn Burr to a defeat.

But, I think that Burr will defeat Ross by the slimmest of margins. Burr’s cash advantage will help flood the airwaves and ultimately dictate the narrative of the campaign until November 8th. Along with his far superior name recognition, and lack of Republican early voting efforts, I think that Burr will get the nod. Democrat early voting efforts have been significant, and a greater percentage of their voters have already voted. Although things can change in the final two week run in to the election, the Republican Party base is strong in North Carolina. If Burr wants to win, he better hope Republican voters show up on election day. This will come down to turnout. This isn’t to say that Ross won’t win. There are numerous reasons why she might. I would be shocked to see either candidate win by more than a couple points.

 

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Todd Young will edge Evan Bayh Indiana Senate Race

The Indiana Senate race has certainly had its twists and turns. Before Evan Bayh entered the race for the Democrats on July 11th, I would have bet a hefty sum of cash that Rep. Todd Young was going to wipe the floor with Democratic nominee former Rep. Baron Hill. A Howey Politics poll on May 19th had Young setting the pace by a whopping 18 points.

But, that’s not how things stayed.

When Former Senator Evan Bayh entered the race, the game was changed. Evan Bayh is the son of the Birch Bayh, a beloved 3 term Senator also from Indiana. Evan is the former Secretary of State, two term Governor, and former two term Senator from Indiana. With near universal name recognition, Bayh’s entry into the race dealt a critical blow to the Young campaign.

A week after he jumped into the race, an internal DSCC poll projected Bayh was up 21 points. They even said that his support had room to grow.That’s a 39 point swing. But, its what people didn’t know about Bayh’s post-Senate career that’s derailed his campaign.

As he left the Senate, Bayh wrote an op-ed highlighting his discontent regarding gridlock. Following his tenure in the Senate, Bayh went to work in D.C. for lobbying firms, and stayed within the beltway in his multi-million dollar Georgetown home.

It’d be foolish to assume that Bayh would maintain a 21 point lead for the remainder of the campaign. From that point on,  the Young camp decided that it would dictate the race’s narrative until election day

From that point on, Evan Bayh’s image has been absolutely dismantled. Scandal after scandal has emerged, and his campaign has largely been on the defensive.

Bayh’s scandals include but aren’t limited to:

Bayh’s image has been absolutely trashed by these scandals. Young’s team is right to capitalize on these scandals. Voters deserve to be educated about their choices.

I believe Bayh’s baggage will ultimately cost him this election. Bayh’s baggage is similar, albeit worse, to former Senator Richard Lugar. Lugar lost in the primary after serving for 6 terms, because he lived permanently inside the beltway. If Richard Lugar, a beloved six-term senator, isn’t safe from a residency scandal, neither is Evan Bayh. Bayh has more than just a residency scandal. This is a major reason I believe that Young will win.

To add, Evan Bayh is not a good representative for Indiana. In 12 years in the Senate, Bayh passed a measly two bills. Bayh also cast the deciding vote in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or Obamacare. Two years on from his decisive vote, he publicly admitted that the Medical Device tax, a major part of Obamacare, kills American jobs — including thousands in Indiana — and global competitiveness. Bayh is not a good legislature, and Hoosiers won’t forget his failures.

To make matters worse, Bayh voted with Hillary Clinton 85% of the time when their tenures in the Senate overlapped, and Bayh voted with Barack Obama 96% of the time. He is as partisan as can be. Meanwhile, he claims to be a conservative democrat. His voting record dictates otherwise.

On the flip side, Todd Young has been an excellent congressman for Indiana’s 9th District. Young has introduced important legislation such as the REINS Act. The act dictated that all new major regulations with an economic impact of $100 million or more would require an up-or-down vote by both the House and the Senate and the signature of the President before they can be enforced on the American public.

Although the REINS Act wasn’t passed into law, its this sort of leadership that embodies Congressman Young’s pedigree. Young has attempted to search for conservative solutions that plague Hoosiers, and Americans every day.

Overall, I do believe that Young is a better legislator than Bayh. Young also doesn’t carry loads of baggage like Bayh. For this reason, I believe that Hoosiers will see through his candidacy.

At the end of the day, internal polling on both sides dictates very different outcomes. Independent polling fails to account for Lucy Breton, the Libertarian Party candidate in the race.

I believe that Young will eek out this election by a point or two. The baggage that Bayh carries is too much for him to carry an election day victory. Young’s superior legislating skills will only help him, and Hoosiers don’t want to vote for someone they perceive to be a carpetbagger.

Bayh’s name recognition will help, but his name has been smeared by his own doing: the Young campaign has only echoed the attacks. Young deserves to win this race, and on November 8th, the Young campaign won’t be disappointed.