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Sen. Raphael Warnock walks down the Senate steps after a vote in the Capitol in September. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Cook Political Report shifted three Senate seats toward Republicans — and classified them as toss-ups — in the nonpartisan prognosticator's latest ratings published Friday.

Why it matters: These moves reflect the increasingly bullish midterm environment for Republicans, amid fallen approval ratings for President Biden. And Cook Political ratings move the political market with donors.

Driving the news: The 2022 Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada previously leaned toward Democrats before Cook switched them to toss-up races on Friday, citing Biden's sinking approval ratings and rising inflation and economic concerns.

  • The three races "are all states that Biden carried by 2.5 points or less — the only three Democratic races that fall into this category — and if there is a sizable partisan swing we see come next November it's easy to see how these races get swept away even if GOP candidate quality is subpar," Cook Political Report Senate and governors editor Jessica Taylor writes.
  • All three seats are currently held by Democratic incumbents: Sens. Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

Worth noting: "Republicans have a host of problematic candidates and messy primaries that could endanger their prime chance. ... Add in former President Trump's continued meddling in the primaries ... and things get murkier for Republicans," according to Cook Political Report.

The big picture: The overall map slightly favors Democrats, as they're defending 14 seats compared to the 20 seats that Republicans have up in 2022.

  • The GOP also has five open seats, including three that are rated as competitive by Cook Political Report.

Go deeper: Bullish Republicans launch 2022 ad, midterm strategy

Go deeper

Scoop: Nashville Dems ponder partisan school board races

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

In a move that could end the era of nonpartisan education politics, the Davidson County Democratic Party will soon vote on whether to hold primary elections in Nashville school board races.

  • During a special session last month, the state legislature passed a law allowing county political parties to vote on making school board elections partisan.
  • In an email chain obtained by Axios Nashville, the state Democratic Party urged county officials to embrace the new law and vote in favor of partisan elections if their Republican counterparts do the same.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House voted Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.

House passes annual defense bill

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted to pass the annual defense bill 363-70 on Tuesday night, authorizing nearly $770 billion in funding for defenses and national security programs.

Why it matters: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) still has to clear the Senate, but the House passage greatly increases the chances that the must-pass defense bill will move through both chambers of Congress before the end of the year.