President Obama’s travel schedule this week says everything about which states will determine whether Democrats retain control of the Senate.
Obama will speak at a rally in Seattle on Thursday for Sen. Patty Murray, campaign for Sen. Barbara Boxer in California on Friday, and raise money in Las Vegas for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday night.
Surprisingly, in just a week’s time Murray has jumped several points ahead of Republican challenger Dino Rossi, while the race between Boxer and Republican Carly Fiorina has tightened.
Just a week ago, Washington looked to be the most winnable race for Republicans if they wanted to pick up 10 seats, the number they need to control the Senate. But a handful of polls in the last several days have propelled Murray to a 6.2 percent lead over Rossi in the Real Clear Politics average, compared to just a half a point lead one week ago.
Meanwhile, Boxer continues to lead over Fiorina, but her advantage has not been beyond the margin of error in any poll during the month of October. Boxer’s lead, which stood at five points a week ago, has been chipped down to 2.3 points in the RCP average.
It looks like every cent of Boxer’s $6.2 million third quarter fundraising haul — the best of any Democrat Senate candidate for that period — will be needed. She outraised Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, by roughly $300,000.
Rossi, meanwhile, outraised Murray by about $1 million in the third quarter, with a $4.4 million take.
Both Republican candidates will gain an edge on the airwaves with help from outside independent groups.
The races in both states will come down to turnout and enthusiasm. Democrats hope the president’s appearances for the two senators — and their ground games — will help them gain an edge in bridging the enthusiasm gap between their party and conservative voters, who are eager to deliver a vote against the president’s agenda.
In Nevada, polling over the next week will reveal how much Reid’s poor debate performance last Thursday impacted voters. Reid is also up against a Republican, former state lawmaker Sharron Angle, who took in the most money of any Senate candidate in the third quarter, an amazing $14.4 million.
The Nevada race is currently in a dead heat.
Elsewhere, Democrats will begin focusing their remaining energy and money on Illinois and Colorado. Both those races are also tossups.
In Illinois, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk are trying to fight the other with one hand tied behind their back, as each has major baggage to deal with in the mob connections of the former’s family bank, and the misleading statements of the latter about his military record.
Giannoulias has roughly $8 million in his war chest to Kirk’s $12 million, but has begun to show some momentum in the polls.
In Colorado, Democrats hope to capitalize on Republican Ken Buck’s statement Sunday that homosexuality is not genetic, while Republicans believe jobs and the economy will remain the top issue and help Buck defeat incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet.
Bennet outraised Buck in the third quarter but has still trailed in most polls, though Buck’s edge is only two points in the RCP average.