Peters sees 52 Senate seats from his Harley Davidson

Riding through upper Michigan on his Harley Davidson this week, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) surveyed Trump Country and gambled his own party’s odds in November. Democrats, he concluded, can still see bigger than holding the Senate — with a chance to expand their claim to 52 seats.

What they say : “The environment is difficult, given that people are exhausted after the pandemic and we have had problems with inflation,” Peters, who chairs the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, told an Axios reporter who told him. was following (by car) in front of a washed out road. north of Traverse City. “And that’s never good for the White House party.”

  • “That’s the bad news,” Peters said. “The good news is that people don’t really like Republicans.”
  • “Our goal is to protect our starters and be attacking in as many runs as possible,” he said. “Fifty-two would be historic.”

Why is this important: Peters – who won his own seat in 2020 by less than 2 percentage points – used his annual motorcycle tour to tout his party’s recent legislative victories, but also speak to some of Michigan’s redder parties and complete tons of survey data.

  • This year, along with a dozen other riders, Peters covered 1,000 miles – from Muskegon to the Upper Peninsula and back to the Lansing area – on his Pan America™ 1250.

The big picture: Peter’s roadside optimism contrasts with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has recently tempered his own party’s expectations as Trump-backed candidates appear to be struggling in some general elections.

  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), head of the Republican National Senate Committee, publicly criticizes Republicans for “bashing” his candidates, calling him a “traitor to the conservative cause” in a Washington Examiner op-ed.

Enlarge: At Chandlers Café, a roadside joint known for its homemade pizzas and fresh coffee, Peters was recognized just for his presence. The population of Harrietta, Michigan is 151.

  • “It makes a huge difference for someone in a high position to come to a small town and show a face,” said owner Amanda Chandler, a self-described independent who struggled to stay open during the lockdown. “From what I hear, he’s doing a great job.”

Zoom out: So far, Democrats in tight Senate races have been able to edge out Biden, whose own approval ratings have been steadily rising.

  • That fuels hopes of retaining Democratic incumbent Senate seats — while working toward potential pickups in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Cook Political Report even says that a GOP victory in the House is no longer a “fatality”.
  • But Senate leaders are preparing for their candidates to be battered by an avalanche of negative television ads. “After Labor Day, there will be an incredible amount of Republican money against our candidates,” Peters said. “It will all be close races.”
  • “I don’t want to sugarcoat it too much,” Peters said. “I’m a real realist.”

Between the lines: Peters says a backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade gives Democrats an edge in protecting incumbents in New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada.

  • He does not mention Georgia, where Senator Ralphael Warnock will face voters after winning a 2020 special election in a historically conservative state.

The other side: Republican candidates spent too much money over the summer. The dynamic could change as voters tune in more seriously after Labor Day and groups like the Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned super PAC, release some $160 million worth of ads.

  • SLF communications director Jack Pandol said “responsibility is coming”.
  • “Democrats have dutifully endorsed Joe Biden’s toxic agenda in Washington, but show Biden’s amnesia at home,” Pandol said. “The more voters learn about what they did, the angrier they are at Democrats for destroying their quality of life.”
  • “Spending by Republicans and Democrats will be at parity in most of our target states by Election Day and we’re well positioned to win big wins across the country,” said Chris Hartline, spokesman for the NRSC.

And after: As a survivor of tough races in a deeply divided state, Peters tells incumbents and challengers alike to hit the back roads. “It’s important to be in rural areas that have tended to move away from Democrats,” he said. “You have to go everywhere in your state, but never hesitate to go to the countryside.”

  • Stones is not advising every candidate to jump on a Harley.
  • “It may not be authentic,” he said. “The number one rule of authenticity is that you actually have to be authentic.”

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