At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which is associated with the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, two of the editors have announced ratings changes for two of the most highly watched U.S. Senate races this year, and both ratings changes favor Democrats.
Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman announced Sabato’s Crystal Ball was moving its assessment of races in Arizona and Pennsylvania from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.” In Arizona, incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D) is running for re-election against Trump-backed Republican challenger Blake Masters, who has never previously held elected office, and in Pennsylvania, Democratic contender and current Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is hoping to win against Republican Mehmet Oz in the race for the seat that retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is vacating.
Some of the rationale Kondik and Coleman cited for announcing the ratings changes included the significant gap in financial power behind the Kelly and Masters campaigns. Kelly is out-raising Masters, and as of a recent point, his side already reserved millions more in ad space than Masters — a gap widened by the recent decision of a super PAC connected to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to abandon some $8 million in ad space reserved for the Arizona Senate race. Kondik and Coleman also cited “Kelly’s candidate-quality advantages over Masters” and “the environment looking not as bad for Democrats.” As for Pennsylvania, there’s another gap in campaign fundraising, with the Fetterman team consistently raising more money than Oz’s campaign. Recent issues include major gaffes that have resulted in the public conversation essentially leaving Oz trying to defend himself. Another issue, which is more expansive than a mere gaffe, is the fact Oz lived for decades in New Jersey before comparatively recently moving to Pennsylvania.
In a recent poll in Pennsylvania, Fetterman led by a lot when respondents were asked which candidate they feel “best understands the concerns of Pennsylvanians.” The Democratic contender saw 52 percent of respondents pick him, but just 28 percent selected Oz. “It is not as though Republicans have nothing to use against Fetterman — despite his well-crafted, burly image, he is not particularly moderate. But image does matter in politics, and Fetterman’s is just stronger than Oz’s, at least for now,” Kondik and Coleman wrote. “Just like Arizona, Pennsylvania is one of the most marginal Biden-won states, so we find it difficult to believe polls that show Fetterman up by more than 10 points. That said, Oz has not led in a single public poll since the general election started, and it seems likely that Fetterman is up by single-digits at this point.” Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which offers forecasts for Senate races across the United States, currently has just two Senate races on the ballot this year — in Nevada and Georgia — as toss-ups.