D.C. - One Washington insider is confident that the Republicans will maintain the majority in the Senate this fall - no matter if Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump emerges as the presidential victor.
Ward Baker, the National Republican Senatorial Committee's executive director, makes his argument in Medium.com and in doing so points to, among other things, Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's overwhelming victory in the Illinois Republican primary.
From within the Beltway, views of the Heartland are often distorted, but Mr. Baker is less than forthright when he boasts of Senator Kirk's win over small businessman James Marter, who was unable to raise funds due to pressure on check-writers from Illinois GOP powers-that-be and their staffs. Mr. Baker also doesn't mention that Senator Kirk has no outreach or interest in attracting conservative voters from Illinois - as he consistently signs onto radical leftist causes and receives embarrassing scores from national conservative groups.
All that aside, Mr. Baker is adamant that Kirk's win in Illinois symbolizes victory for Republicans in the fall.
At the NRSC, our goal is to construct campaigns the way a shipbuilder would construct a ship for a long journey: build a vessel, train a crew, give them coordinates, and set them to sail. Our campaigns are staffed and fully functional. We’ve done exhaustive training for campaign staff, with the NRSC hosting a communications boot camp, two digital summits, two campaign management and field workshops, eight in-state field schools, and we’re currently underway with eight digital training sessions.
The results of our preparation are already apparent. In a cycle where many reporters like to pontificate about the “Trump effect,” our Senators have successfully navigated tricky waters in their primary contests. Across the board, Republican Senators have outperformed the top of the ticket in raw votes, and Senators like Richard Shelby, John Boozman, Richard Burr, and Mark Kirk scored decisive primary wins that were hardly guaranteed given the mood of Republican voters. In fact, every Republican Senate incumbent has won with over 60%.
In addition to mastering the intricate mechanics of running a modern campaign, we have a very clear messaging strategy. Republican Senators are talking to voters like they’re running for sheriff. Every message is highly targeted and purposefully local. Our Senators are making sure their voters know they’re focused on issues that matter in their states – Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte are leading the fight against opioid abuse; Roy Blunt is a forceful advocate for mental health funding; John McCain and Ron Johnson are going above and beyond for reform and accountability at Veterans Affairs and VA hospitals. We want to make sure voters are casting votes for Senate candidates based solely on issues related to that Senate race – not up, down, or adjacent on the ticket. We’ve embraced data analytics, new digital platforms and non-traditional message delivery in order to talk to voters in targeted segments amounting to 7-8% of the electorate at a time. The results are self-evident: Portman is running the best field and data program in America and Pat Toomey has been a leader on the digital front with the use of Snapchat to expand his message universe.
We have the best candidates, the best campaigns, the best messages, and we have been gearing up for a fight since day one. No stone has been left unturned, no campaign left unprepared, and not a single campaign tool ignored. The NRSC has been unrelenting in our efforts to prepare our campaigns, and as Democrats spend the heart of the campaign hoping for the best, we will execute a strategy that has been in the works for a year in a half. Republicans are writing the book on how to win in an unpredictable environment and we will hold our Senate majority in November.