Midterm election models continue to project that Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate, as the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza recently reported. The GOP is running strong candidates, many in red states that Mitt Romney won 2012, but also stronger than first expected in states that went for President Barack Obama that year — including Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon, which weren’t previously considered in play.
Having these candidates at the top of the ballot is likely to help other Republicans running in the states. Indeed, in key states it could increase the party’s chances of flipping control of state legislatures from Democratic to Republican.
In Colorado, for example, Democrats hold the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans, however, view the state Senate as a top pick-up opportunity.
“[GOP] Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman [is] within one seat of gaining the majority,” said Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, “and the House Republicans [are] within striking distance as well.”
Representative Cory Gardner, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado, is eight points ahead of Democrat incumbent Senator Mark Udall in a new Quinnipiac University poll out last week, though a new USA Today/Suffolk poll shows Gardner up by one point. By running Gardner, Colorado Republicans avoided the nominating disasters of previous cycles and have their best shot at knocking off Udall. What’s more, with Gardner at the top of the ticket, Republicans have a better chance to gain control of the Colorado state legislature.