In addition to the presidential campaign, the contests for
control of the U.S. senate are key to he outcome of the 2020
The purely numerical advantage has shifted this cycle to the
Democrats who have only about half as many incumbent
seats as the Republicans up for re-election. In the most
recent cycles, the GOP had this advantage, and it helped them
keep their current 53-47 majority control.
Although 34 seats are up this year are up, only 10-12 are now
seen as competitive. Most of these are GOP seats, and this
has given Democrats hope that they might retake majority
control in January, 2021.
The senate minority now need either 3 or 4 pick-ups to regain
the majority (depending on which ticket wins the White
House; the vice president presides over the senate and
breaks any ties). That also assumes he Democrats lose no
seat they now hold.
The six senate seats which now appear most likely to switch
parties are in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine
(currently held by Republicans), and in Alabama and Michigan
(currently held by Democrats). Of these, only Alabama seems
almost certain to change hands. If so, this would change the
math for Democrats taking control by an additional seat.
Each party had recent good and bad news about the two most
vulnerable GOP seats. In Arizona, incumbent Martha McSally
has fallen behind former astronaut Mark Kelly. and in Colorado,
former Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is stumbling
badly in his last-minute effort to unseat GOP incumbent
Senator Cory Gardner.
Republican Senators Thom Tillis (North Carolina) and Susan
Collina (Maine) are facing challengers heavily financed with
out-of-state money. GOP challenger in Michigan John James
is strong candidate against low-profile Democratic incumbent
Gary Peters, but trails in the polls.
Other potentially vulnerable seats include those in Georgia,
Iowa, Montana and Kansas (now held by Republicans); and in
New Hampshire and Minnesota (now held by Democrats),
but pick-ups in these seats probably depend on whether the
presidential election is close or not.
Voter moods, as best can be measured, are almost always
volatile in the summer months before a national election,
and probably more so this unprecedented year. In this
environment, media propaganda news can prevail over
common sense., and a spate of partisan or flawed polls can
be misleading. Time and again over the years, I have
cautioned that the most accurate and useful polling occurs
just before the election in October when pollsters are highly
motivated to be as accurate as possible.
I also have long pointed out that some races rated as “safe”
early on by various pundits unexpectedly become very
competitive as election day approaches. I will have more
about which ones these might be after the conventions and
Labor Day. Some senate nominees have not yet been
The bottom line now in early July in the U.S. senate races
is that senate control in 2021 is undecided, and dependent not
only the presidential contest outcome, but also very much
on the quality of the candidates running this year.
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.