Senate Democrats shifted a historically challenging map, defined the issues and have voters’ enthusiasm. Each day this week, Quick Takes will focus on the major trends that have shaped the election. Today’s look: how the GOP recruitment failures cut their targets in half.

THE CYCLE OF GOP REPUBLICAN RECRUITMENT FAILURES. Throughout the off-year, Republicans struggled to get top-tier candidates to run, resulting in a series of recruitment failures that cut their targets in half.

Here’s Politico in July 2017: Senate GOP candidate problems: The rundown

  • “There isn’t a state on the Senate map where national Republicans are facing their dream candidate scenario…In seven of the eight most competitive states in 2018, either a top candidate has turned them down, two candidates are staring at a potentially messy primary, or both.”

And here’s the Washington Examiner nearly a year later in April 2018: Republicans are worried about the quality of their Senate challengers.

  • “Republicans are worrying about dwindling opportunities as candidates that are some combination of defective, unimpressive and underfunded appear headed toward victory in a handful of GOP primaries…Conditions are even worse in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states that have strong concentrations of Trump voters.”

It’s been one of the most enduring trends of the cycle:

Associated Press: Senate GOP Struggles To Find Challengers For Some Democrats
Wall Street Journal: GOP Scrambles To Recruit Senate Candidates
Real Clear Politics: Slow Pace Of 2018 Senate Bids A Growing GOP Concern
Washington Post: Do Senate Republicans Have A Trump Recruiting Problem?
Washington Post: Do Senate Republicans Have A Trump Recruiting Problem? (Part 2)
New York Times
: Republicans’ ‘tough Cycle’ Now Spreads To Senate
Associated Press: GOP Struggles To Woo Candidates In States Where Trump Won
Roll Call: Senate Match-ups Yet To Take Shape Ahead Of 2018 Primaries
Talking Points Memo: Fears Of A Democratic Midterm Wave Are Already Costing Gop In Key Races
NPR: GOP Recruitment Troubles Could Affect Senate Races
Politico: Senate GOP Recruiting Slow-going For 2018

WATCH From September 2018: Chuck Todd: “I’ve Talked to Plenty of Republicans Who Wished They Had A Better Candidate”

WATCH From October 2018: Duffy: Senate Republicans “Had Some Recruiting Challenges”

THE CONSEQUENCES: GOP RECRUITMENT FAILURES CUT THEIR TARGETS IN HALF, “A STUNNING DEVELOPMENT FROM WHERE THE CYCLE STARTED.”  Don’t take it from us: the Washington Post reports “Republicans barely mention Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — states Trump won — as opportunities to knock out a Democrat.”

Nathan Gonzales, Inside Elections: “We also moved #OHSen, #WISen, #PASen to Solid Democratic. A stunning development from where the cycle started and the 2016 presidential results.”

Vox, 6/21/18: “Retaking the Senate in 2018 was always a tough climb for Democrats because they are defending 10 seats in states that Donald Trump won in 2016. But that difficult terrain is looking a little less daunting these days, as new polling has led some election forecasters to believe several of those states are actually quite safely in Democratic hands. Over the past few weeks, Democrats seem to have shored up their positions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”

Yahoo, 10/26/18: Much ado was made early this cycle about Dems having to defend 10 Senate seats in states that Trump won, and how difficult that was going to make it for them to gain any ground overall. But most of those seats — especially in states that Trump flipped, as opposed to states that always vote Republican in presidential elections — are looking pretty safe 10 days out.”

USA Today, 10/26/18: “Republican challengers haven’t gained traction in the Senate races in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – states where Trump’s narrow win helped him secure his electoral college victory.”

BOTTOM LINE: Republican recruitment failures — and strong Democratic incumbents — have cut the GOP’s targets in half, shrinking and shifting a historically challenging Senate map.

ICYMI: NEWSPAPERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ENDORSE DEMS. Democratic Senate candidates added to a growing list of endorsements, many of which cite their commitment to key issues in the states and protecting pre-existing conditions coverage.


IN — In “What a Mess,” Joe Donnelly touts his record of reaching across the aisle to deliver results for Hoosiers.

NV — Jacky Rosen hits Dean Heller on flip-flopping on health care in “Dean Caved.”


AZ-Arizona Republic: As Election Day nears, Sinema tells supporters: ‘We have a lot of work left to do’

AZ-Cronkite News: U.S. Senate race: Health Care is Top Issue for Sinema

MI-Valley Van Guard: Debbie Stabenow visits SVSU during day of campus stops

OH-The Gazette: Sherrod Brown rallies volunteers, constituents as campaign enters final days

PA-The Intelligencer: Bob Casey: Election a ‘make or break moment for Pennsylvania’s middle class’

WI-Kenosha News: Baldwin rallies supporters at Kenosha County Democratic Party headquarters

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