It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Senate, but as the prof did an analysis of the GOP keeping the House, I am revisiting the question of whether or not the GOP can keep the Senate.  As a recap:  The Democrats need to win five Senate seats to win back the majority, only four if Hillary is elected and Kaine, as VP, holds the tie-breaking vote.   Republicans, by contrast, are defending 24 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 10.

As the professor noted, “In the case of the Senate, it will pave the way for Hillary to push through disastrous judicial nominations. And yes, expect Majority Leader Schumer to raise the nuclear option to the Supreme Court level if Democrats control the Senate by even a single (tie-breaking) vote.”

This holds true even if Trump wins the White House and the GOP loses the Senate.  Without the Senate, Trump won’t be able to get the type of justice/s confirmed that he promised.  They simply won’t make it through a Democrat-controlled Senate.

It wouldn’t get that far with the current Supreme Court opening because if the Democrats win the Senate, they will have a little over two weeks in January—the transition period marked by the new Congress being sworn in on January 3, 2017 and the new president on January 20, 2017—to confirm Obama’s pick.  In that scenario, there is no guarantee, at all, that he would stick with Garland; he might decide to make an even more radical pick if assured it would get through a newly-minted Democrat Senate.

The Senate, in other words, matters.

And it’s not clear what will or is even likely to happen.   Conflicting reports abound:  FiveThirtyEight is predicting Democrats have a 73% chance to win the Senate and Nathan Gonzales, editor of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, is saying, “With two weeks to go, control of the Senate is up for grabs. If Republicans can break even in the tossup states, they have a chance to maintain control. But if the landscape shifts just a couple of points against Republican candidates, Democrats will capture the majority.”

Gonzales’ statement seems to reflect the data shown in the latest Sabato Senate map:

http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2016-senate/

So, in essence and all things being equal in terms of the other state’s Senate race projections, the Senate majority rests on just six states:  New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, and Nevada.

The National Journal includes Florida as a toss-up, and that’s a fair addition.  Although Rubio enjoyed a comfortable lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy and the DSCC pulled its funding for Murphy, the race has tightened in recent days.

Politico provides an analysis of the six states (excluding Florida) that are up for grabs and that will determine the Senate majority.

The Senate will be won, insiders say, in a half-dozen states that could go either way on Election Day: The traditional swing states of Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and the newly competitive states of North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana, which historically lean Republican.

Traditional swing states:

Nevada

The Silver State is the most diverse swing state up for grabs and the only one where Republicans are on offense. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) has been a solid recruit for the GOP, acquitting himself well in Democratic-leaning state against former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Heck has led for most of the year, though polls are showing the race beginning to tilt Cortez Masto’s way. Polling in Nevada is notoriously unreliable due to the difficulty of reaching casino workers and cell phone users. The last two surveys showed Heck up 3 and Cortez Masto up 7.

Pennsylvania

More than ever before, Democrat Katie McGinty’s campaign is hitching itself to the Clinton wagon and attempting to make GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s indecision on Donald Trump the race’s signature issue. Toomey has said he’s still waiting for Trump to earn his vote.

. . . . But nationalizing the race by making it about Trump carries risks for McGinty as well. While Toomey has carved out a brand distinct from Trump’s, many voters still see her as a generic Democrat. While Clinton has pulled away in Pennsylvania, McGinty and Toomey are running neck-and-neck. And Toomey is attacking McGinty over ethics issues and pressuring her to release e-mails from her time as Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff.

New Hampshire

Democrats just got their best poll of the race from UNH/WMUR, showing Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) losing by nearly double-digits to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan (D). Democrats are crowing about it, but no one on the ground actually thinks it’s a blowout.

States that traditionally lean Republican

North Carolina

It’s all tied up in North Carolina, where Democrat Deborah Ross has steadily gained on Sen. Richard Burr, a low-key and relaxed lawmaker who vowed not to start his campaign until October. Now, Republicans are betting it all on an advertising blitz about the “radically liberal” stances Ross took while at the American Civil Liberties Union. The spots slam her for voicing concern over the state’s sex offender registry, defending flag burners and even for advocating for an adolescent who was convicted of sexual assault. (The ACLU believed he had been given too harsh a sentence for someone his age.)

Missouri

The GOP assumed Trump’s popularity would guarantee GOP Sen. Roy Blunt’s reelection. But while Trump’s numbers in the state slid slightly over the past month, Democrat Jason Kander gained momentum and kept outperforming Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket.

. . . . Polls show Blunt with only a slight lead and Republicans have privately urged Blunt to hit back at the Democrats’ attacks more forcefully. But Blunt has instead focused on criticizing Kander over his support for Clinton and Obamacare.

Indiana

Republican Todd Young’s campaign is laser-focused on a glaring vulnerability that’s dogged Democrat Evan Bayh since he entered the race in July: The charge that he abandoned Indiana until he wanted to run for office again.

. . . . Despite public disillusion with political insiders, “folks still know and trust the Bayh name,” said Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.).

If the GOP loses the Senate this year, they are in a good position to win it back in two years . . . what we don’t know is how much damage will be done in that time with the Senate led by Chuck Schumer.

Electoral vote reports:

Even if they lose control of the Senate next year, the 2018 map will once again favor the Republicans, as the Democrats will be defending 23 seats in a nonpresidential year, including those in the red (or reddish) states of Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. Should they wish to secure control of the Senate until the next presidential election, the Democrats will likely need a net gain of eight or nine seats this year—a very tall order.

Better, though, would be their being able to use the favorable 2018 Senate map and midterm election to build their majority into a supermajority, all the better to override a President Clinton or to support a President Trump.