For Dems to Take Senate Majority, They’ll Need to Win These Contests in 2018

If Democrats can hold 48 Senate seats in 2018 and win three more seats, they’ll take the majority. That will not be easy. Early odds are against it. Here are three Senate races where Dems are slightly favored, two longshots, and nine “must-wins.”

  • AZ: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) is running against a crowded and divided Republican field for the seat of Jeff Flake, a Republican who has been outspoken against Trump and is retiring due to divisions within his party. She has a good chance.
  • MS: Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), the first female MS Secretary of Agriculture, is an appointee to the seat of seven-term senator Thad Cochran (R). She is running against Mike Espy, an African American, former Democratic congressman and former Secretary of Agriculture under Clinton who was acquitted on corruption charges.
  • TN: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) is running against former governor Phil Bredesen (D) for an open seat. The retiring incumbent Republican, Bob Corker, has feuded with Trump. Bredesen holds lead over Blackburn.

Republican incumbents will be hard to beat. Here are two competitive races that are getting attention:

  • NV: Sen. Dean Heller (R) is running for re-election against Rep. Jacky Rosen (D). His party is divided on Trump. She is narrowly ahead but not well known yet.
  • TX: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) faces a well-funded challenger, Beto O’Rourke. Watch this race to see if there’s any chance to rebuild the Democratic Party in Texas. O’Rourke will need a huge Democratic turnout, most of the independent voters, a significant number of Republicans, and probably low Republican turnout to win.

Dems have to defend nine Senate seats in states Trump won.

      • FL: Trump narrowly won Florida in 2016, and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is expected to face a tough re-election challenge from Gov. Rick Scott (R). Nelson is slightly favored, but this race is likely to be intensely competitive.
      • IN: With Gov. Mike Pence on the ticket in 2016, Trump easily won Indiana. Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly is in danger. But infighting among Republicans is helping him. This contest is rated a toss-up.
      • MI: Trump very narrowly won this state in 2016, and Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow is generally considered safe or at least likely to win re-election.
      • MO: Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has a slight lead, but Republicans are mounting a strong challenge, trying to stir up resentment against McCaskill’s wealth.
      • MT: Democratic incumbent Jon Tester has a tough road ahead. Tester is promoting a bipartisan record and legislation he pushed that has been signed by Trump.
      • ND: Re-election of Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp is rated a toss-up.
      • OH: Trump narrowly won this state, but incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown should be victorious. There is a crowded and divided Republican primary. If he wins, he may run for president in 2020.
      • WVA: Trump is popular in West Virginia, and has campaigned against Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin.
      • WI: Trump very narrowly won this state in 2016. Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin is favored given the contested Republican primary. But she is facing a huge influx of money for her opponent. If she wins, she may run for president in 2020.

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