WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted Thursday that Democrats will hold the U.S. Senate, propelled by strong voter turnout to buck a wave of Republican enthusiasm for gaining control of Congress in the midterm elections.
The Democratic leader told The Associated Press he's confident Democrats will be able to win the battleground states being contested — and potentially pick up Senate seats from Republicans.
“It's tight,” Schumer said in an interview. “I believe Democrats will hold the Senate and maybe even pick up seats.”
Campaigning in his home state of New York, Schumer's upbeat predictions come as Democrats face stiff headwinds heading into Election Day on Tuesday.
Republicans have gained momentum as they work to flip control of the evenly split Senate and narrowly divided House. GOP candidates are capitalizing on President Joe Biden's lagging approval ratings, inflationary pressures on households and history — the party in the White House typically loses congressional seats in the president's midterm.
Schumer is counting on strong voter turnout and a final get-out-the-vote push to keep the majority in the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie, as she's done at key junctures over the past two years to pass legislation and confirm Biden nominees.
Democratic incumbents are battling in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and New Hampshire, and trying to win open seats in battleground Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
“I don’t want to give the illusion that these are all slam dunks,” Schumer acknowledged. But Schumer said Democrats have advantages in each of the battleground states and have reversed the springtime narrative that the party would easily lose control.
“The fact that we’re in the ballpark and our Democratic candidates are defying the political environment is a testament to a few things," he said. Voters “are seeing how extreme these Republican candidates are and they don’t like it. And second, they’re seeing the Democrats are talking to them on issues they care about, and that we’ve accomplished a great deal on things.”
Republicans have acknowledged GOP “candidate quality” has been an issue, but say they have pushed past a brutal primary season when voters picked candidates backed by Donald Trump in Georgia and elsewhere who were not the first choice among party leaders.
Republican operatives now believe their candidates have improved and and say voters who did not support Trump are beginning to return to the GOP in the midterm elections.
Tuesday's election will determine control of Congress setting the course for legislation and Biden's priorities for the remaining two years of his presidential term.
Follow the AP's full coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.
Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press