News & Politics

Conservative Columnist Jennifer Rubin Warns Republicans: 'The Senate Really Is in Play'

"[One] can imagine thousands of women rolling their eyes in disgust (or yelling at their TVs), vowing to head for the polls in November to vote out Republicans."

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Political pundits have been much more bullish on Democrats’ chances of retaking the House of Representatives in 2018 than their chances of retaking the Senate, where gaining a majority on Tuesday, November 6 would mean keeping every seat a Democratic incumbent is defending while taking at least two seats away from Republicans. But conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, citing new data from the Cook Political Report, is express confidence about Democrats’ chances of retaking the Senate—which, she asserts in a September 21 column, really is in play for the Democratic Party.

Stressing that the Cook Political Report contains “mostly bad news” for Republicans, Rubin begins her column by noting how shockingly well Democrat Beto O’Rourke has been performing in the Texas Senate race against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz. Pundit after pundit has described Texas as a “deep red state,” but Rubin points out that according to Cook, the Texas Senate race has become “a toss-up.” And Texas, Rubin quickly adds, isn’t the only place where Democrats are competitive in Senate races.

Rubin asserts, “With four Democratic-held seats (Florida, North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana) and four Republican seats (Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada) rated as toss-ups—with most of these races within the margin of error—you can see that Republicans’ apparent advantage, based on the number and political tint of states Democrats were forced to defend, has all but evaporated.”  

The Washington Post columnist has been among President Trump’s frequent critics on the right, often describing him as terrible for the Republican Party’s image. And in her column, Rubin contends that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum—who is running against Tea Party favorite Ron DeSantis in Florida’s gubernatorial race—is helping Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in his quest for reelection.

Rubin writes, “Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), thought to be the weakest campaigner, caught a big break when Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee, won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination while Republicans went with far-right gadfly Rep. Ron DeSantis.”

Rubin is bullish on Democrats’ chances in Indiana as well, noting that Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly—who is seeking reelection—has an advantage of “+3.8 points in the RealClearPolitics averages.”

In her column, Rubin goes on to say that Republicans are increasing their chances of losing the Senate in 2018 because of their mean-spirited attacks on Christine Blasey Ford, the 51-year-old Palo Alto University psychology professor who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh—Trump’s second nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court—of attempting to rape her back in 1982 when they were teenagers (Kavanaugh was 17, Ford 15).

“Republicans also have a new problem: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh,” Rubin writes. “President Trump on Friday reminded women voters why they are so enraged with Republicans when he demanded to know why Christine Blasey Ford did not file a police report when she was attacked as a teenager. The answer is that she was about 15 years old at the time and was too afraid or filled with shame to report it.”

Rubin notes that various anti-Kavanaugh groups are already creating attack ads that accuse Republicans of bashing alleged victims of sexual predators. The ads, Rubin concludes, won’t necessarily convince undecided voters who is telling the truth, but they “could very well amp up Democratic enthusiasm.”

Rubin adds, “Each time Republicans engage in foolish conspiracy theories in defense of Kavanaugh or belittle Ford, one can imagine thousands of women rolling their eyes in disgust or yelling at their TVs, vowing to head for the polls in November to vote out Republicans.”

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.