The Senate playing field is shrinking


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CNN

Last week, a super PAC affiliated with Mitch McConnell announced it would pull nearly $6 million from the New Hampshire Senate race. On Tuesday, the group threw an additional $6 million into the Pennsylvania Senate race.

“Dr. Oz is on the rise, but Democrats are throwing a lot of spending into Pennsylvania of late to stop his momentum,” said Senate Leadership Fund Chairman Steven Law. “This is a must-win race where we need to build up our firepower to make sure Oz gets through. We believe that if we win Pennsylvania, we win the majority.”

The SLF’s move is the latest and most significant of the narrowing of the Senate playing field with the midterm elections two weeks away.

With the Senate deadlocked at 50-50, it’s now up to both sides to win a handful of the most competitive races between the two parties, with the Pennsylvania seat, currently held by the GOP, at the top. list, followed by Democratic seats in Georgia and Nevada.

North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin are in the second tier of competitive seats, all three currently controlled by Republicans. (Note: Major outside Democratic groups have dropped out of Ohio, despite Rep. Tim Ryan’s stronger-than-expected campaign.)

There’s also Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly has a narrow lead over Republican candidate Blake Masters. SLF canceled ad bookings for September and October during the race.

Gone for Republicans are dreams of the New Hampshire seat, where Sen. Maggie Hassan is seeking a second term. The Ditto Republican hopes to beat Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

Whispers of longtime Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley winning a race have largely died down for Democrats. The same is true in Florida, where Democratic Rep. Val Demings has been unable to close a sustained single-digit margin for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The decision to cut big ad spend usually means an admission of bankruptcy. And it is these decisions that make or break the campaign for the majority. Choose to get out of a race too soon (or not soon enough) and you’ll be wasting millions of precious ad dollars on a lost cause.

point: The best way to understand where each side sees the majority is to follow the money. And what the money is telling us right now is that the map is getting smaller, even as the stakes are higher.