Jessica Rippel POS 3270 Bergerson The Incumbent vs. The Outsider: Incumbent to Win Republicans are spending the final weekend of campaigning before Tuesday's election sizing up the possibility of their first Senate majority in nearly a decade, but with key races still too close to call. Latest polls show some critical Senate races tightening, guaranteeing a night of drama and suspense on Tuesday, as Republicans strive for a net gain of six seats to capture the chamber. A GOP victory would give the party complete control on Capitol Hill and the ability to constrain President Barack Obama's final two years in office. (Collinson, 2014) In Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the man in line to cap a long career on Capitol Hill by becoming Senate majority leader if Republicans win on Tuesday, appears to have opened a small gap over his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Collinson, 2014) Mitch McConnell has all the fundamentals going for him: President Obama is deeply unpopular in Kentucky, McConnell is an incumbent, and Democrats haven’t won a statewide federal race in Kentucky in 18 years. They haven’t won a Senate race in 22 years. (Enten, 2013) Negative Ads are the Real Winner Kentucky's U.S. Senate election could be a close race, but the battle for the airwaves has already been won. Republicans have outspent Democrats on TV by more than $8.4 million, according to data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity. That means Kentucky voters have seen roughly 13,600 more ads for Sen. Mitch McConnell than they have for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. (A.P., 2014) Altogether, Kentucky's Senate candidates and interested parties have spent more than $33 million on TV ads, and that's a low estimate. It does not include the money spent on polling to come up with the ads or production costs to make the ads. And it does not include ads on local cable. (A.P., 2014) McConnell's campaign has outspent Grimes' campaign by about $2 million. But the big advantage for McConnell comes from two Super PACS, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition and Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, that have spent a combined $8.2 million on ads for McConnell. Grimes' biggest source of outside help came from the $2.4 million worth of ads from the Senate Majority PAC. (A.P., 2014) Grimes has tried to use the disparity to her advantage, frequently criticizing the "millionaires and billionaires" who pay for McConnell's campaign. McConnell rarely mentions the ads in his speeches, except to respond to what he says are false attack ads from Grimes or her allies. But he said the increase in spending is directly related to McConnell's position as Senate minority leader. Speaking last month to Viamedia, a company that sells local cable TV advertising, McConnell noted he spent $6.5 million in 2002 followed by $20 million in 2008. (A.P., 2014) The high stakes, which include whether McConnell will be elevated to Senate leader if Republicans can gain win a majority, have prompted mostly negative ads in Kentucky. More than half of the ads aired here, 56 percent, have been negative, according to an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project, while just 17 percent have been positive. About 26 percent have been ads contrasting the two candidates. (A.P., 2014) Polls According to Huffington Post’s poll information: 2013 - Started out 5.3% difference with McConnell in the lead Sept. 9th – 16th again reached a 5.3% difference with McConnell in the lead As of November 2nd, McConnell in the lead by 5.8% August 2013 stayed within 0.1% Jan 30th – Feb 13th stayed within 0.2%, reaching 0.1% Feb 7th – 10th 57 polls dating from December 7th, 2012 – November 1st, Grimes only in the lead 16 times with McConnell and Grimes tying 4 times (HP Pollster, 2014) Currently tracking 57 polls from 27 pollsters ESTIMATE WITH 95% CONFIDENCE INTERVAL “FiveThirtyEight’s election forecasting model combines hundreds of opinion polls with historical and demographic information to calculate odds for each Senate race. We estimate the probability that each party will win control of the Senate by running those odds through thousands of simulations. The forecast is updated regularly.” Works Cited Associated Press. Republicans winning TV ad war in Kentucky. (2014, November 2). Politico. Collinson, S. (2014, November 2). Republicans eye slim Senate majority. CNN. Enten, H. (2014, July 15). Democrats Are in a Perilous Position in 2014 Senate Races. FiveThirtyEight. FiveThirtyEight's Senate Forecast. (2014, November 1). Huffpost Pollster. (2014, November 2). 2014 Kentucky Senate: McConnell vs. Grimes. Huffington Post.