Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid still thinks a Democrat will keep the Montana Senate seat, even though the party’s best candidate ended his campaign amid a plagiarism scandal a mere three months before the election.
“We are doing really well in Montana,” Reid told the Argus Leader.
But that assessment flies in the face of political reality.
Democrats’ chances in Montana are especially grim because of the recent resignation of John Walsh, who was appointed to office in February to replace Max Baucus, who retired.
Walsh dropped out of the race on Aug. 7 after he was found to have plagiarized part of his thesis for the Army War College in 2007.
Walsh’s replacement on the ticket is Amanda Curtis, a 34-year-old math teacher. The New York Times described Curtis, a one-term state legislator, as facing “nearly insurmountable odds,” in the race against Republican Steve Daines.
“Ms. Curtis is starting the race cold with almost no money, little statewide name recognition and less than three months to introduce herself to voters from the oil towns in eastern Montana to the logging and ski towns in the west,” the Times reported.
Even when Walsh was in the race, Daines had a hefty lead. According to Real Clear Politics, which tracks political polling, Daines led Walsh by nearly 14 percent in an average of polls.
Reid still expects Democrats to retain their majority in the Senate.
“If the election were held today, we’d be in the majority without any question, but the election is not today,” Reid told reporters in Nevada, according to the Argus Leader.
“They have to pick up six seats and … it’s not going to be easy for them to pick up six seats,” Reid said of Republicans.
Democrats currently have a 53-45 majority. Two independents caucus with Democrats.
Based on its most recent polling, in a “no toss-up” scenario, Real Clear Politics is predicting that Republicans will pick up seven senate seats, giving the GOP a 52-48 majority.
Reid did concede at least one race.
“We are going to lose in South Dakota, more than likely,” he said. Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson is resigning there after having served three terms.