While the general consensus among political analysts seems to be that while news of the FBI’s reinvigorated investigation of Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails will not cause the Democratic nominee to lose on Election Day, the startling development negatively effects some down-ballot Democrats’ election chances as Congressional Republicans have seized on the story in numerous campaign ads.
In mid-October, Clinton’s lead in the RealClear Politics national polling average was up to seven points over Donald Trump. With Democrats poised for a presidential landslide victory, hopes were high that the party could win back majority control of the U.S. Senate, currently split 54-46.
Clinton’s electoral advantage has shrunk, just over two points nationally among likely voters as of Tuesday, along with her party’s chances of regaining control in Congress’ upper-chamber.
Exactly six Senate races are currently polling within the margin of error, with Republican candidates in New Hampshire and Nevada having recently taken the lead over their opponents. GOP Senate contenders are also favored to win close elections in North Carolina and to a lesser extent in Missouri.
Two other Senate races in Indiana and Pennsylvania clearly favor Democrats, although both candidates currently only enjoy a four-point lead. Republicans must win four of these six seats to retain a majority.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee pounced on the renewed FBI investigation story in a web ad released Tuesday to beat Democrats back over their support of Hillary Clinton, which new polls show could tip the scales in the handful of close House and Senate races.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has also published a number of online ads, both in the form of videos and blog posts, which target Democratic House candidates who have endorsed Clinton.
A NBC News/Survey Monkey survey released Monday shows that these negative campaign tactics may be effective for Republicans, as 68 percent of independents said Friday’s revelation is “important to discuss”, compared to 31 percent who think it’s only a “distraction”.
Monmouth University’s poll in Indiana, also published Monday, reveals that four percent of the state’s voters changed their mind about who to vote for on Election Day due to the renewed Clinton email investigation. If that finding is accurate it could be the reason Senate candidate Evan Bayh potentially loses, as the Democrat currently holds a slim 3.7 point lead over his Republican challenger in an average of polls.
With only seven days to go until voting concludes and polls tightening, close congressional elections will likely be decided by voter turnout. Not surprisingly, both Democratic and Republican operatives have argued that the Clinton-FBI story will motivate their party’s respective bases.
Early voting in both North Carolina and Ohio on Saturday broke 2012 records, a positive sign for Democrats, who also currently have a raw turnout advantage in Nevada and Colorado. GOP turnout in early voting states has a leg-up in Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Iowa, all must-win states for Trump.
[AP] [NBC News] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty via CNN]