Democrats face two huge political questions on Election Day 2020:
Can they beat Donald Trump and save the United States from four more years of divisiveness and malice?
And — is it possible they can they take control of the U.S. Senate?
Even asking that second question would have seemed fanciful just a couple of months ago.
But now it’s “becoming a real possibility,” reports National Public Radio (NPR).
That’s because (assuming Trump loses in November) the Democrats need to flip just three Senate seats.
And right now, five incumbent Republican senators are looking vulnerable, while just one Democrat does, NPR says, citing the Cook Political Report.
Money is the key.
“Fundraising reports from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) provide glimpses of Democratic strength,” NPR says. “In Arizona, for instance, challenger Mark Kelly has so far outraised the Republican incumbent [Martha] McSally by some $12 million.”
Cook labels five states as Senate toss-ups and six others that are close but “leaning” toward one party or the other.
The toss-ups include Arizona; Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner narrowly leads Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper; Maine, where Democrat Sara Gideon has outraised Sen. Susan Collins by nearly $7 million; Montana, where Republican incumbent Steve Daines appears to be in a tight race with Democrat Steve Bullock; and North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis is being chased by Democrat Cal Cunningham.
One apparent problem for Republicans is the reluctance on the part of many candidates to raise small-dollar donations online, something the Democrats do well.
A slideshow shown to Republican Senate chiefs of staff last month is “full of bleak numbers about the party’s failure to compete … on digital fundraising,” reports Politico.
The GOP has made some progress with attracting online donations, Politico says, but “a dozen Republican Party strategists and donors warned in interviews that not enough GOP campaigns are taking active steps to properly use the tools at their disposal to haul in money.”
“It’s a slow-moving trainwreck,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican consultant who led Sen. Marco Rubio’s digital strategy in the 2016 presidential campaign. “The warning signs are flashing right now, and they’re ignoring it.”