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Democrats more hopeful in midterms — but brace for GOP spending surge

In state after state, Democrats have been putting to work their enormous financial advantages to define their Republican opponents in the mind of voters. But strategists for both parties expect the dynamic to shift now that primary campaigns have all but concluded, as Republicans seek to recover from brutal intraparty fights and begin to close the gap in spending. The underlying dynamics of the midterm election remain, with a recession still looming as a possibility, a jittery stock market and continued inflation growth that the Federal Reserve has said it will continue to treat with ever-higher interest rates. The sitting president’s party has lost House seats in every midterm election since 2002, when President George W. Bush rallied the country in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

GOP fears that Democrats might be the ones to buck the trends this year are anchored in part in the competitive map, which is largely being fought in states with well-funded Democratic incumbents and relatively inexperienced GOP challengers. GOP Senate candidates in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Ohio are all running their first races against more far experienced Democratic politicians. Trump’s preference for political newcomers has opened them up to a barrage of negative press in recent weeks. Democrats make little secret of their plans to further define the candidates in the coming month by dredging up other episodes from their past. Republicans still appear well-suited to reclaim House control, given the tendency of those races to follow the national mood, though even there Democrats have become more hopeful. “We were counted out

Democrats expect the polls to tighten in the coming months, as voters tune into races and spending moves closer to parity. “The key dynamic especially in Senate races is this economy, which is one of the great Republican-favoring election cycles in history, and a group of candidates who are struggling to get into fighting shape,” one Republican Senate strategist says. Despite mismatched budgets, Republicans remain bullish on picking up Nevada, with several strategists listing it as the most winnable of the contested seats.