Eight weeks from Election Day, the heads of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee view the battle for the Senate through very different prisms -- though they share some of the same views on how the midterms are shaking out.

Sharing the stage for the first time this election cycle on Tuesday, at an event sponsored by the group Center Forward and moderated by yours truly, DSCC executive director Guy Cecil and NRSC executive director Rob Collins shed light on the races they're watching, how they're approaching Election Day, and what the future holds for the way campaigns are run. Here are the nine things we learned from their chat:

1) There's no wave election, yet.


"It doesn't appear, at least as of yet, that we are in the type of wave environment that we saw in 2010," Cecil said. "My definition of a wave election, which is looking at blue and purple states and seeing whether or not those folks are in danger doesn't seem to be happening."


Still, he acknowledged, the playing field is stacked against Democrats: "We are dealing with a map ... that is dominated by Republican states, particularly Republican states in the South."

Collins added: "We're going to be outspent, we know that. But we feel like we have enough money to be competitive."

Independent analyst Stuart Rothenberg wrote Monday that he expected Republicans to pick up seven or more seats this year. Cecil: "Predictions are worth the paper they're printed on. It's not to disabuse or to suggest Stu doesn't know what he's talking about, but we have eight weeks left in the election." Collins: "Stu's a genius, until I disagree with him."


2) Republicans want to nationalize Senate races. Democrats want to localize them.

"As long as we have the resources to weave in national narratives smartly into their races and allow our candidates to talk about themselves, I think that's the best place for us," Collins said.


Cecil sought to frame elections in a different way: "the question is whether voters are going to make their decision based on the national environment and based on their view of the president, or are voters going to make a determination between the two people that are on the ballot?" he asked. "Senate races in many cases have the resources necessary to really define the race on their own terms."


Asked to sum up the elections neatly, Collins and Cecil reiterated their points.

"Local's going to matter, but national's going to tip it," Collins said.

"We hope, and I think eight weeks is a long time to go, that the election is going to be from a voter's perspective about the two people they have the option to vote for," Cecil said. "And that even if they have questions or reservations about the president in these red states, which we would acknowledge that many of them do, that their connection to their candidate, whether it be Mark Pryor or Mark Begich or Mary Landrieu or Gary Peters, counts for something, and that voters aren't just robots."


3) Both sides are focusing on turnout more than ever.

Okay, this isn't new -- especially given how open Democrats have been about their investments in field programs, under the auspices of what they call the Bannock Street Project. Cecil said the party's three goals this year are to 1) Clearly communicate with Democratic voters the importance of turning out, 2) invest resources in infrastructure to drive that turnout, and 3) protect the right to vote.

Collins sees field as an area in which Republicans can and must do better. "Door to door, person to person is something we've gotten away from," he said.

4) Republicans are going to fight on Democrats' turf, rather than running away from debates on issues like women's health.


At least four candidates -- Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), Oregon physician Monica Wehby (R) and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie (R) -- have said they support over-the-counter birth control. That's not an accident.


"Contrasting to previous cycles where Republicans have said, 'We're not talking about that, let's just force the conversation to go away from issues that Democrats want to invest millions of dollars talking about,' I think with OTC and with ObamaCare, you're seeing our candidates really talking about these issues in a way that we haven't seen in the past," Collins said. He wants his candidates to be talking about issues with practical resonance with voters, something the GOP hasn't always done.

"When our party starts talking about the Commerce Clause, we lose our practical appeal to people," he said.


5) Democrats won't say it, but they're conceding open seat contests in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana.

Asked about those states, where Republicans are overwhelmingly favored, Cecil deferred to Collins. At another point, Cecil referred to "the two open seat races" -- Michigan and Iowa -- with no mention of Democrats running in those other three open seats.


6) Democrats aren't going to invest in Kansas on behalf of an independent candidate.

...Even if they can knock off an incumbent Republican.

"We would not advertise on behalf of Greg" Orman, the independent businessman challenging Sen. Pat Roberts (R), Cecil said. "This race has a long way to develop and it's one we're going to continue to assess as time goes on."


Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) has said Chad Taylor, the Democratic nominee, will remain on the ballot. That could be enough, Collins said, to give Roberts a plurality victory.

7) Things are getting expensive.

Within 60 days of an election, candidates get to buy advertisements at what's called the lowest unit rate, to ensure they have access to the airwaves. Outside groups have to pay market rates, which are considerably higher.

The more competition for those ad slots, the more they cost: In Anchorage, Cecil said, outside groups will have to spend $700 per gross ratings point to get on the air. That's about what an ad costs in the Washington, D.C. market.


What's that mean for the next election? Cecil estimated the two candidates who run for president in 2016 could spend between $1.75 and $2 billion each on their races. Billion with a B.

8) Most political professionals agree the campaign finance system is broken.

Asked what future executive directors would deal with, Collins said past campaign finance legislation has had the unintended consequence of drowning out candidates and parties.

"Institutions are tough to undo, and outside groups are becoming institutions. I'm not sure that's good," Collins said. "We broke the connection between the politicians and the money, allegedly, and now there's more money and it's coming in ways we don't even know where it's coming from."

"The candidate and the party committees have the smallest voices in some states. And I'm not sure that's what the American people want. I think they want a system that's open and fair and honest and doesn't overly advantage the incumbents," he went on. "Candidates, be they incumbents or longshot challengers, should be able to have a voice. And now, their voice is small."


Cecil agreed: "Regardless of partisanship, regardless of ideology, the system we have now is broken. And whether it creates corruption or whether it just creates malaise or whether it creates anger at our politicians in a way that is ultimately unhelpful I think is a problem for both parties and it's a problem for the country," he said.

9) The voters who will decide the election: Suburban women.

"Women are obviously an important part of the election, and in particular suburban women. And if you told me today how those voters were going to vote, both of us could tell you what the election would ultimately end up being," Cecil said.

Collins nodded.