- NRSC director feels "very good" about GOP Senate victory in November.
- He attributes potential GOP success to strong candidates like Joni Ernst in Iowa.
- He said Obama's low approval ratings also aid Republicans.
The political strategist spearheading the Senate Republicans' campaign effort declared Thursday, perhaps not surprisingly, his party will take control of the Senate in November, after close to a decade in the minority.
"We are going to win the Senate, I feel very good about that," NRSC executive director Rob Collins said.
"These races have been tough. They have been a grind. But we are seeing movement in the right direction and I feel really good about where we are and think we're going to take the Senate and we're going to take it on election night," Collins said, predicting the GOP will win the 6 seats it needs to control the Senate, even if races in Louisiana and Georgia are close enough to require run-offs in the weeks ahead.
Democratic campaign operatives in Washington also have expressed confidence in recent days they will hold the Senate. Public polls show a number of races shifting -- for and against each party -- as voters become more focused on the candidates, something that is likely to continue for the final three weeks of the campaign.
No matter who wins, Republicans should pick up seats and the Senate likely will be narrowly divided.
Collins said the credit for the party's expected success belongs to a disciplined crop of GOP challengers and good stewardship from political handlers in Washington who provided special debate and speech training for their candidates. That training allowed campaigns to avoid the types of gaffes and missteps that derailed several GOP candidates in 2012.
"Joni Ernst raised $6 million because she's a good candidate," Collins said about the Republican Iowa candidate who is neck in neck in a race Democrats didn't originally expect to be close. "That training, we believe, helps make her that much better a candidate. And when our candidates don't have problems, they don't say things that reflect poorly on our party or their campaign, it just helps in every category."
Speaking to reporters in the "Majority Room" of NRSC headquarters on Capitol Hill, Collins ticked through the most competitive races of the term, saying in each case the GOP candidate was poised to win. He did acknowledge the Georgia Senate race has "tightened up" as Republican David Perdue battles a well-funded campaign from Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a respected former senator. Perdue has faced criticism for his comments about outsourcing jobs as a businessman. The NRSC recently pumped $1.4 million into the race, in part, to help Perdue get better known in some parts of the state.
Foreign policy, terrorism, Ebola, and ISIS are high on voters' minds, Collins said. Those "constant crises" -- coupled with President Obama's high unfavorable ratings -- have created openings for Republicans.
On Ebola, Collins praised his candidate's deft handling of a politically sensitive subject.
"I think our candidates have been thoughtful and they have been cautious to strike a correct tone of concerns of this administration's handling of it without being outside the lines or going beyond the fact," he said.
Asked what would happen if Democrats defied his predication and retained control of the Senate, Collins quipped, "I'll be in an unmarked grave in Kentucky," which, of course, is home to Sen. Mitch McConnell, the man who would become Majority Leader of the Senate if the GOP wins.