Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), who chairs the Senate GOP campaign arm, on Monday said that he believes the party still has a “clear path” to holding onto control of the majority in the Upper Chamber despite steep headwinds.
Young’s comments, made during an interview with Washington Post Live, come just one day before the Nov. 3 election and as political prognosticators give Democrats momentum for winning back the Senate majority for the first time since 2014.
“Our candidates have gone out there, they’ve made their own cases that the Republican Party remains the party to return America to the heights of prosperity that we were enjoying right before the pandemic hit. That will continue to be the message that we carry through Election Day,” Young said.
“But for the discipline of our candidates, and but for their ability to go ahead and remind voters all that we’ve accomplished … we wouldn’t be in the position where we are right now which is a clear path to keeping the Republican Senate majority amidst a global pandemic,” he added.
Republicans face steep political headwinds in trying to keep control of the Senate. The country is months into a global health pandemic that has pummeled the economy, killed more than 230,000 Americans and is currently seeing an uptick in daily cases.
Republicans have publicly urged Trump to have better message discipline as they worry he could drag down GOP senators in key races. Trump’s approval rating is currently 44.7, according to FiveThirtyEight, a slight uptick from where it’s been for most of the year.
Young acknowledged during the Washington Post interview that the success of Trump and Republicans more broadly largely ride together.
“We regard this as a team effort and that’s why many like Senator McSally have decided to campaign alongside the president,” Young said.
He added that Trump’s message, in his final rally before the election, should be to emphasize “all that he has accomplished” and “cast a bit of a vision for the future.”
Young also pointed to Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation fight as an issue that would be good for Trump to talk about, adding “I think that could really be a closer for us in many of these key races.”
Republicans are defending 23 Senate seats compared to 12 seats by Democrats. Though Republicans entered the cycle with a slight advantage — most of their seats are in states won by Trump in 2016 — Democrats have been able to widen the map putting a number of once-thought safe seats in toss-up territory.
FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats a 74 percent chance of winning back control of the Upper Chamber. Sabato’s Crystal Ball projected on Monday that Democrats will win back at least 50 seats, while adding that the two races in Georgia remain toss-ups. Both seats are currently held by Republicans meaning Democrats could further grow their majority if they win either or both of those seats in run-off elections.
Official and lawmakers in both parties agree that given the slate of tight races, the potential for runoffs and influx of voters, and potential legal challenges, the outcome of the fight for the Senate majority could remain in limbo for weeks or months.
Young credited GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) for running a “very disciplined” campaign. Collins, part of a dwindling group of Senate moderates, is one of two GOP senators running in states carried in 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Collins has trailed Democratic nominee Sara Gideon in public polling, though Republicans believe the race remains tight.
Young, asked to name one race he’ll be keeping an eye on, pointed to North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is facing off against Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham.
“I’ve been very proud of Thom Tillis. … This is a state that tends to break late,” Young said, adding that he believed Tillis had been closing “very, very strong.”