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Control of the Senate: Close Races to Watch

Control of the Senate: Close Races to Watch

Senate control can go either way, depending in large part on seven key states

With election day only two days away, control of the Senate is still unclear as several states are simply too close to call. A big, unanswered question is the impact the presidential race will have on Senate races.

Real Clear Politics co-founder Tom Bevan discusses the impact the top of the ticket winner may have on the Senate races.

“If Hillary Clinton wins and wins substantially on November 8, Democrats will mostly likely win many of these very competitive Senate races, and probably win enough to take back the Senate,” Bevan said. “If Donald Trump wins, that will mean Republicans will probably be able to defend.”


The Washington Post identifies 12 Senate races that may be pivotal in determining which party controls the Senate: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Of these, WaPo notes that the Republican is likely to win two of these states:  Arizona (John McCain) and Ohio (Rob Portman)

Democrats, WaPo notes, are also likely to win two of these states:  California (Kamala Harris), Illinois (Tammy Duckworth)

That leaves the following eight races as key states to watch:  Florida (Marco Rubio, R and Patrick Murphy, D), Illinois (Mark Kirk, R and Tammy Duckworth, D), Indiana (Evan Byah, D and Todd Young, R), Missouri (Jason Kander, D and Roy Blunt, R), Nevada (Joe Heck, R and Catherine Cortez Masto, D), New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte, R and Maggie Hassan, D), North Carolina (Richard Burr, R and Deborah Ross, D), Pennsylvania (Patrick J. Toomey, R and Katie McGinty, D), Wisconsin (Ron Johnson, R and Russ Feingold, D).

In Florida, the Senate race has become surprisingly tight, and while it looks like Rubio is likely to win, it’s definitely not a given.  If Hillary wins Florida it will be because she managed to get more black and Hispanic people than expected to the polls.  The traditional GOP-leaning Cuban voter has been increasingly registering as Independent, and an influx of Puerto Rican immigrants has also caused the Florida Hispanic vote to move leftward, though the majority of Puerto Rican voters also register as Independent (or “No Party Affiliation”).

As Hillary opens a 30-point lead among the state’s Hispanic population (trailing Trump only with Cuban-Americans), Rubio’s lead among the Hispanic bloc has recently diminished (Murphy is ahead with Florida’s Hispanic voters 50-44).  If Rubio loses, it will be a potentially career-ending blow.

Indiana is a bit of a (pleasant) surprise in that Evan Bayh (D) began as the runaway favorite and is now trailing his GOP challenger Todd Young (R) by five points.   That’s outside the margin of error, but only just.

Missouri is a genuine toss up that should have been an easy call for Roy Blunt (R), but the Senate race in Missouri is consistently polling as tied or with Blunt’s lead within the margin of error.   As a result, Blunt is stressing the importance of the Supreme Court to help him keep his seat and the Republicans to keep the Senate (where Supreme Court nominations are confirmed . . . or not).

Nevada is another dead heat.  Heck (R) has been struggling in this race through unforced errors and a hodge podge approach to campaigning that has left Nevada GOP voters a bit baffled.  Not only did he distance himself from Trump, but he called in to campaign with him uber-conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and often left-leaning Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-NC).  This race could go either way, but it’s not looking good for Heck.

New Hampshire, North Carolina, and *Pennsylvania are virtually tied, with the Republican in each state leading but only by one to three points or so, well within the margin of error.

*Wisconsin is another surprise much like Missouri but in this case, it looks like the Republican might just squeak a win here. Feingold (D) had a massive lead at the beginning, but it has all but evaporated as he leads by only a single point.  This is down from the early double-digit lead. Mike Pence (R- IN) was in Wisconsin campaigning with Johnson this weekend, and it looks like Johnson just might keep the seat he first won from Feingold in 2010.

There will be a lot going on this coming Tuesday as the results for the presidential, House, and Senate races come in, but I’m keeping an eye on these states as the ones likely to decide whether the Senate will be controlled by Republicans or Democrats.

The RCP Senate map:

*RCP has moved Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to (D) gains.

[Featured image via Sabato’s Crystal Ball as of November 3, 2016]


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With the lack of courage, charisma and patriotism of Mitchell McConnell, the the Grotesque One and the GOPe that voted him in remain committed to the Harry Reid full-employment act.

What a bunch of corrupt losers.

Sorry Fine, meant to upvote you, went down by mistake.

Yes, its hard to get excited or even care about who controls the Senate. I can expect a Dem controlled Senate will be firebreathing and ram through whatever they want. But I can also expect that the GOPe will talk talk talk about doing a bunch of things and then cave in the “spirit of bipartisanship” as they sell us out for more Donor Dollars.

Shorter: The Dems will spit in my face, but at least I can see it coming. The GOPe will shiv me in the back while I am defending them.

Those days are over.

OTOH, its really really really important that we get more conservative Justices like Roberts on the court. Men of character and integrity that will reverse their Principles to rule that a tax is/is not a tax…

How the frack could Roberts be worried about “politicizing” the court when his alternative was to destroy its credibility?

That one still burns.

My understanding is that the new Senate will be sworn in a couple of weeks before the new President.

If the Senate goes to the dims they will be able to use that time to approve any Supreme Court Justice that Obama selects by using the nuclear option and approving with a 51 vote majority.

Therefore, it is very important that the Republicans maintain control of the Senate so that President Trump can make the Supreme Court selection.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to Kaffa. | November 6, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    That might be the only reason to vote for them, because there doesn’t seem to be a solid conservative in the lot, giving Rubio a marginal nod. In reality, all of these people have spent six (6) or more years in D.C. They appear to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Given the way Trump has come in recently, I wonder if any of them are sorry they didn’t offer more support of his candidacy?

    Yes it is. So why are we tolerating an competent cowards like McConnell to lead – and lose – the GOP in the Senate?

NC is a lock for the GOP, Trump/McCrory/Burr. The polls are not taking into account what is happening at the ground level. A lot of Soros and California money down the toilet here.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Barry. | November 6, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Agreed. Eastern NC is GOP anyway.

      We should just wall off the Raleigh / triad area for the election… And the downtown area of charlotte. That would lead to a 85 to 15% election in favor of the R’s.

      Yep, eastern NC is solid. I drove from my home on Hatteras Island through Manns Harbor and saw no Hillary signs, lots for Trump (a few H for prison of course). I went to the NC mountains last Sunday, not a H sign, many for Trump.

      Best of all, when I early voted last Monday, Not one.

      I’m confident of NC. Every thing else worries me…

Well, McConnell and Ryan just held a presser and stated that, in light of the toxic atmosphere this investigation has created, the Senate would be confirming Obama’s SCOTUS nominee immediately in order to restore a sense of decorum and civility in these trying times.

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to Fen. | November 6, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Actually, that statement struck me as premature. I would not expect it until the moment the polls close Tuesday. If they do it before then, and they actually could because they are that stupid, then some of them may lose their phoney-baloney jobs to a spasm of revenge voting. So the odds are that they will wait. But they WILL confirm Merrick Garland in the lame duck session regardless of who wins the presidency. If Trump wins, it will be McConnell and the GOPe flipping him off. If Hillary wins, it will be them demonstrating their continuing fealty.

    Republicans grovelling before Democrats, and micturating on their own voters from a very great height is nothing intrinsically unlikely.

    Leave it to Ryan and McConnelle – and the rest of the rats of the GOPe – to sell-out our nation.

    Fen in reply to Fen. | November 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    “Actually, that statement struck me as premature.”

    Well, it was parody. Hasn’t happened yet. But I wanted to touch on how credible it was that the GOP would sell us out again.

    Is there such a thing as sad amusement? That’s what I will feel if I need to revisit that post to confirm a prediction come true.

Okay. But admit it. For a moment, I had you there.

The idiots in GOPe didn’t do anything to prevent this. If they had run ads that openly said, “Sec. Hillary Clinton is going to lose. Do you really intend to give her control of Congress, too?”

At the same time, GOPe hasn’t done anything that makes me want to vote for them. President Hillary Clinton is going to be just awful, but I can’t imagine that GOPe will grow a spine and do anything to prevent the stop her corruption and incompetence.

Her election means that the Rule of Law is dead. There isn’t any fairness in the system: the Law doesn’t apply to the rich and powerful — provided that have the right beliefs. Her election signifies the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the US.

“At this point, what difference does it make?”

I don’t know what will happen Tuesday, but the R party has done everything short of abdicating. Had they simply sucked it up and went all out to win, this would be a different election. But then, it’s the GOPe, by choice nothing more than the handmaidens of the communist party. Losing is what they are good at. Right after stabbing their supporters in the back.