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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on July 21. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Cook Political Report on Thursday moved its outlook to a net gain of five to seven Senate seats for Democrats, and now says Democrats are slightly favored to win the Senate majority. 

Why it matters: Cook currently forecasts that President Trump's troubles could affect Republicans down the ballot, calling the incumbent president the "decided underdog against former Vice President Joe Biden."

The state of play: Democrats must win at least four Senate seats to claim the majority.

  • Cook moved the race in Arizona between Sen. Martha McSally (R) and former astronaut Mark Kelly (D) from "toss up" to leaning Democratic in its July rating.
  • It also moved the races in Iowa between Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Theresa Greenfield (D) and Georgia between Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff from leaning Republican to toss-ups.
  • It moved Minnesota's and New Mexico's races from likely Democratic to solidly Democratic.

The big picture: Cook also shifted its outlook for 20 House races toward Democrats last week, signaling that Democrats stand to widen their lead in the House.

  • Republicans need to pick up 18 seats to win the House back in 2020, but polling is firmly moving against that hope.
  • Meanwhile, Trump is trailing Biden in multiple state polls less than four months before November's election.

Go deeper: Poll shows Biden beating Trump by 13 points in Florida

Go deeper

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Texas early voting surpasses 2016's total turnout

Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.