the bongino report

Joni Ernst: Race for Senate Control Tighter Than Battle for House

AURORA, Ohio — Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said the quiet part out loud, acknowledging Republican prospects for winning the Senate majority are less certain even as she declared the House a lock for a Republican takeover in the midterm elections.

“We can do this in the House — I see that red wave coming in the House,” Ernst told a crowd of about 50 grassroots Republicans and party officials Thursday during extemporaneous remarks while accompanying Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance on a campaign swing through northern Ohio. “It’s a little more difficult in the Senate.”

Ernst followed those comments with a predictable prediction. “I see that red wave coming in the United States Senate, too,” she said, as Vance looked on. But the second-term Iowa senator conceded during a brief interview with the Washington Examiner afterward that the battle for the Senate is tougher for Republicans, and the outcome less assured, than the fight for the House.


“It just is because the dynamics are very different,” Ernst said in a banquet room at the Aurora Inn Event Center in Aurora, Ohio, a bedroom community of 17,240, in Portage County, about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland. “We are really just battling out some of what we consider more purple states.”

“If you look here in Ohio, we have got a Democrat and a Republican, and our states don’t shift. House districts shift with every census. It doesn’t in the Senate,” Ernst continued, referring to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and decennial redistricting, which resulted in more seats drawn to elect either Democrats or Republicans.

Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance (left) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) appear at a campaign event. (David Drucker / Washington Examiner)

“So, we’re still battling out some of the same old battles we’ve had before,” she said. In a “purple state, you need to appeal to a wide variety of voters, and it becomes a lot trickier.” The House also appears more winnable for Republicans because Democrats are defending a thin majority that hinges on a handful of seats. Even absent a red wave, the GOP is positioned to recapture the speaker’s gavel.


Ernst’s assessment of the Senate battle lines is not all that different from the one offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in August during a visit with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he said.

McConnell’s remarks upset some on the Right, with conservative critics accusing the Senate’s No. 1-ranking Republican of purposely casting unwarranted doubts about GOP prospects for recapturing the majority in a chamber split 50-50. The Democrats control the Senate courtesy of the

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