A SuperPAC funded by the Koch Brothers, Freedom Partners Action Fund, announced today they are cancelling $2.2 million worth of TV advertising they planned to run in August and September on behalf of incumbent Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. The group spent $2 million running ads for Johnson back in May.
This comes on the heels of the National Republican Senatorial Committee announcing they too will be canceling $1.3 million worth of advertisements they planned to run for Johnson this summer.
Johnson faces a very tough reelection battle against the man he defeated in 2010, former Sen. Russ Feingold; who has held onto a high single digit lead in the polls throughout the last year.
Wisconsin, while more Republican leaning in off year elections, is traditionally a blue state in presidential years. The last time a Republican won the state was was back in 1984 when Ronald Reagan cruised to reelection, winning 49 states in the process.
Republicans are defending 24 of the 34 Senate Seats in play this year, many in traditional blue or swing states that President Obama carried twice. So resources are at a premium and the fact they are essentially giving up on this race in July means they clearly see the writing on the wall and believe Feingold will win his seat back in November.
As I’ve noted before, Democrats need to pick up four seats in order to regain control of the Senate; assuming Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.
Let’s just say Wisconsin is already in their column; Democrats are also likely to pick up the seat in Illinois currently held by Sen. Mark Kirk, which puts them two pickups away from the majority.
The party recently received a major boost in Indiana when former Sen. Evan Bayh entered the race for the state’s open Senate seat. According to a poll released by the DSCC, Bayh currently has a 21 percentage-point lead over challenger Rep. Todd Young. Even if Bayh’s lead is a bit inflated in the poll, it looks like he is the odds on favorite to win in the fall.
So that would give Democrats three pickups. A number of opportunities exist in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and North Carolina; where polls show Democratic challengers within striking distance in many of these races.
Nothing is a guarantee, but in a year where the GOP has Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, Democrats have to like their chances right now.