By Alexander Bolton–The Hill
The battle for control of the Senate could come down to New England, a region where the GOP brand was seen as defunct a few years ago.
A best-case scenario for Republicans would allow the party to retain Senate seats in Massachusetts and Maine while picking up a seat in Connecticut. Coupled with gains in other parts of the county, it would likely be enough to make Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the majority leader.
But to do so, the GOP will have to beat history. No Republican has been elected to the Senate from Connecticut since 1982, while Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) â€” who is in a tight race to retain his seat â€” was the first Republican senator elected from Massachusetts since Edward Brooke in 1972.
President Obama is an overwhelming favorite to win all three states, meaning Republicans will have to convince voters to split their ballots.
And Mitt Romneyâ€™s poor performance in the Senate battlegrounds indicates the headwinds facing the GOP. He trails Obama by an average of 14 points in Connecticut, 15 points in Maine and 23 points in Massachusetts.
A Republican strategist conceded it would be difficult for the party to win back the upper chamber if it lost races in those three states.
â€œIf we lose both Maine and Massachusetts, the map gets more difficult,â€ the source said.
Still, Republican candidates have made gains in recent weeks, and strategists say whether they win or lose will depend on the quality of their campaigns, not on the presidential race or the national political environment.
â€œIâ€™m not sure thereâ€™s a broad thing you can say about all of them,â€ Rich Galen, a GOP strategist, said of the New England Senate races. â€œThese are individual races. Itâ€™s very difficult to make Senate races part of a national campaign.â€
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in recent weeks has spent more time and effort touting its three promising candidates in New England as races in more conservative parts of the country have not played out as expected.
The committee has spent $300,000 to extend its ad buy in Maine for another week, bringing the total spent to nearly $1 million.
The contest between Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren and Brown was always anticipated to be close.
The bigger surprises have been in Connecticut and Maine, where attacks on the front-runners â€” and stumbling responses â€” have created opportunities for Republicans.
To read more, visit:Â http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/259113-senate-power-hinges-on-new-england
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