Where does the battle for the Senate stand? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

2nd November 2018 Off By binary
Where does the battle for the Senate stand? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise
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A week before the election, the battle for control of the Senate seems to have wrapped up, and the attention turns to questions about exactly how the Senate will shape up for 2019-2020. A large number of very close races leave us with a fairly wide range of possibilities, but Republicans are probably favored to pick up a seat or two.

US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walk to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Republican reaches

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen poll tightening of varying degrees in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. This isn’t terribly surprising. Many of these races flew under the radar screen for this cycle, with relatively low-profile challengers going up against well-established incumbents in an unfavorable environment. A lot of this is probably soft Republican voters coming home as the challengers begin to establish a media presence. I don’t think that any of these states are real danger spots for Democrats, but I also expect the margins to look more like recent polls than earlier polls.

Republican potential gains

There are three races here: New Jersey, Montana, and West Virginia.  I’ve long been suspicious of Republican Bob Hugin’s ability to flip this seat. Yes, Bob Menendez is “ethically challenged,” to be generous, but we’ve seen this movie before. Undecideds either break toward the Democrat (2006) or the Democrat removes himself from the ballot (2002). But it’s realistically too late for Menendez to come off the ballot, even for New Jersey, and undecideds seem to be breaking heavily against him. The environment is probably too bad for Hugin to win, but it isn’t outside the realm of possibility anymore.

The other two states are deep red states that people were keeping an eye on. Jon Tester and Joe Manchin are pretty good fits for their states, but they are also incumbents under 50 percent in states that went overwhelmingly for Republicans in the last presidential contest. It wouldn’t be shocking for undecideds to break heavily against them, and the fact that President Trump is planning rallies in those states should surprise no one.


We have two Republican states and three Democratic states that look like pure tossups. Right now, the polling shows close races in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Indiana, and Missouri.  Republicans probably have an edge in Missouri, while early voting shows Democrats on track to eke out a surprisingly narrow victory in Nevada. Arizona, Florida, and Indiana look like pure tossups; I would not be surprised with any outcome on Wednesday morning there. Forced to choose, I might take the Republican in Arizona and the Democrat in Florida, while we just don’t have enough high-quality polling to make an informed guess about Indiana.

Democratic potentials

The Democrats’ path to a majority ran through picking up Arizona and Nevada, picking up Texas or Tennessee, and then holding all of their seats. That’s probably too much to ask now.  Texas and Tennessee seem to have reverted to partisan form, and while Republicans are unlikely to blow the roof off there, they are poised for solid, if unspectacular, wins.

Making matters worse for Democrats, everyone seems to believe that Heidi Heitkamp is trailing Rep. Kevin Cramer, and seems likely to lose. We’ve seen polling errors before (fairly recently, in fact), but it would take a substantial one for her to pull this off. And it would take systemic polling errors for Democrats to win two of the three. In short, the Democrats’ path to a majority is exceedingly narrow.

Democratic reaches

None, really. This map is so bad for Democrats that they were lucky to be able to put Texas and Tennessee even on the radar screen.

Join the AEI Election Watch team on November 8 for lunch to discuss what happened and what it means. Click here for details.

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