AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
With voters casting their ballots tomorrow, final polling shows that not only are Republicans set to perform well in key swing states, but they also have a fighting chance in several blue states that even the most optimistic GOP strategists once thought impossible pickups. Here are four sleeper races in which a Republican red wave could possibly reach blue shores.
New York Gubernatorial Race: Republican Lee Zeldin vs. Democrat Kathy Hochul
Following the tumultuous exit of former Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo and the wave of crime wreaking havoc on New York City, Kathy Hochul has struggled in polling against Congressman Lee Zeldin. According to a survey of likely voters from the Trafalgar Group released last week, Zeldin now holds a slight edge over Hochul, 48.4 percent to 47.6 percent.
With a victory on Tuesday, Zeldin could become the first Republican elected governor since 2002. In recent days, Vice President Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton have hit the campaign trail in support of Hochul – a sign of just how worried Democrats are about the race.
Notably, a strong performance from Zeldin and voter backlash to Hochul could also present a problem for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is also up for reelection this year. In the aforementioned Trafalgar poll, just 50.6 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for Schumer – an unusually low amount of support for any Democrat in a deep blue state like New York, much less a Senate Majority Leader. Republican candidate Joe Pinion has run a sound campaign and may just have the right ingredients to pull off a truly historic upset.
Connecticut Senate Race: Republican Leora Levy vs. Democrat Richard Blumenthal
Pundits first began paying closer attention to the Connecticut Senate race following a mid-October poll from a respected Connecticut pollster showing Blumenthal leading Republican challenger Leora Levy by just five points – a remarkably thin margin for an incumbent who won by a nearly 30-point margin in his 2016 reelection bid.
Since then, other polls have showed Blumenthal with a more comfortable – although not insurmountable – lead. Strategists within the Levy campaign, however, have continued to insist that the right conditions are still in place for a shocking upset victory on election night.
Blumenthal’s drop in polling should perhaps not come as a surprise. Since his rise to the U.S. Senate in 2010, Blumenthal has repeatedly lied about his service in Vietnam—including to a group of U.S. veterans. Following Trump’s election in 2016, Blumenthal swung to the hard left, echoing Democrats’ false claims that Trump “stole” the election with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin and peddling the lies of the “Russian Collusion” narrative. In 2021, he attended an awards ceremony with links to the Communist Party, and has since served as a rubber stamp for the far left’s legislative agenda in Congress.
Oregon Gubernatorial Race: Republican Christine Drazan vs. Democrat Tina Kotek
Another sleeper race to watch on Tuesday is in Oregon—usually a reliable Democrat stronghold. Earlier this month, the Cook Political Report moved the Oregon Governor’s race from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up”—signaling that the Beaver State could be on the verge of electing its first Republican governor since 1982. The latest RealClearPolitics polling average has the race tied.
Christine Drazan, former Republican Minority Leader of the Oregon House of Representatives, is facing off against Tina Kotek, Oregon’s former Democrat Speaker of the House. “It’s hard to overstate how revolutionary a Drazan victory would be,” Nate Hochman recently wrote for City Journal. “This year’s election marks the first referendum on the ruling party’s record on Covid since the crisis subsided, and the disastrous effects of Oregon’s pandemic governance are just now beginning to fully materialize.”
For Oregon to send a Republican to the Governor’s Mansion for the first time in nearly 40 years would represent a groundbreaking victory not only for the state of Oregon, but also for the American conservative movement more broadly.
Washington Senate Race: Republican Tiffany Smiley vs. Democrat Patty Murray
Just up the coast from Oregon, Washington Senator Patty Murray, a nearly 30-year Democrat incumbent, is also at risk of losing her seat to a dark horse Republican candidate. Tiffany Smiley has continued to narrow her gap in head-to-head polls and gain impressive ground in grassroots fundraising. Murray leads by just a few points in the latest polls after winning by nearly 20 points in 2016.
Washington has not elected a Republican Senator since 1980, which would make a Smiley victory all the more significant. Smiley has made issues like inflation, law and order, opposition to Critical Race Theory, and reducing homelessness centerpieces of her campaign—drawing a sharp contrast to Murray, who has steadfastly toed the line of Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress for the entirety of her three-decade-long tenure in the U.S. Senate.
Despite her strong name recognition, Murray has consistently polled below 50 percent—giving Smiley a clear window to topple her in November. Should Smiley succeed, her victory would send shivers down the spines of the Democrat establishment and help turn Republicans’ prospective red wave into a red tsunami.
Other races long thought impossible for Republicans by the Washington D.C. consultant class like contests in Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico could also prove to be closer than initially expected. Ultimately, Democrats may learn that their record of failures means that no race is truly “safe.”
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