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]


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.