Traditionally, we have rated contested elections on a 5-star scale, which one star indicating a very low-interest race with no chance of flipping and five stars indicating a high-interest race with a relatively high likelihood of flipping. Our Crib Sheets still reflect these ratings. In this analysis, we use the more frequently employed seven-point scale that divides seats into strong, likely, leaning and toss up categories.
Yesterday, we looked at state legislative races we rated as “lean Republican,” “toss up” or “lean Democrat.” Today, we look at the four federal seats we rate “lean Republican” and the two “toss ups.”
The state’s marquee race appears to be tightening. Because of the challenger’s superior fundraising results, the incumbent’s tonal shift toward attacking his challenger and the influx of independent expenditures attacking the challenger, we rate the race between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) as “lean Republican.” In that opinion we are currently joined by national pundits Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato as well as news outlets CNN, Fox News and Politico. Most of these handicappers have moved the race to “lean” from “likely” since around Labor Day.
O’Rourke is on pace to be the first Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate to out-raise the Republican nominee since 1988, which was the last time former U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) was re-elected. In fact, he is on a fundraising pace that could end up eclipsing the amounts raised by every Democratic nominee since 1988 combined. Cruz meanwhile will end up raising the most ever raised by a Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Texas.
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