Sunday, October 11, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Senate Races Near The Finish Line

Several competitive U.S. senate contests will be decided  in
less than a month, and control of this key national
legislative body hangs in the balance.

As will happen again in 2022, approximately, twice as many
Republican incumbent seats are up for election, and the
current 53-47 GOP lead and control is at stake.

The conservative party in doing well  in two contests for seats
now held by liberal party incumbents. In Alabama, GOP
challenger Tommy Tuberville is expected to defeat
Democratic Senator Doug Jones; and in Michigan, the race is
a toss-up. between Republican challenger John James and
Democratic incumbent Gary Peters. In Minnesota, GOP
challenger Jason Lewis is a long shot against Democrat (DFL)
Tina Smith who now holds the seat. Mr. Lewis needs this
battleground state to be won by President Trump in order to
have a realistic chance for an upset win.

Many more GOP incumbents face serious challenges in 2020.

Usually rated the most vulnerable is  Republican Senator
Martha McSally of Arizona. Only a few weeks ago, she seemed
headed to certain defeat by former astronaut Mark Kelly, but
the sudden supreme court vacancy and a business controversy
involving Kelly  has now made this race closer, although Kelly
still leads.

Also considered in trouble, is GOP Senator Cory Gardner of
Colorado. But his challenger, former Governor  John
Hickenlooper, has surprisingly turned out to be a poor
campaigner, and now needs a very big Joe Biden win in the
state to defeat the likeable Gardner.

Also considered very vulnerable this year, GOP Senator
Susan Collins is being challenged by Democrat Sara
Gideon and a great deal deal of out-of-state money. The
most moderate Republican in the senate, she quickly
announced she would not vote to confirm President
Trump’s conservative supreme court nominee.. A popular
political icon in Maine, she will be difficult to beat, but the
race is now a toss-up.

North Carolina GOP Senator Thom Tillis appeared only
weeks ago to be in real trouble for hid re-election, but
revelations of a personal scandal involving his challenger
Cal Cunningham seems to have seriously compromised
his prospects for an upset win against the incumbent.

Although Mr. Trump carried Iowa by 9 points in 2016, many
polls are saying it’s closer to a tie this cycle, and that GOP
incumbent Senator Joni Ernst has a serious contest with
her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

Democrats had hopes to unseat Republican incumbents in
Kentucky (Mitch McConnell), Alaska (Dan Sullivan), Texas
(John Cornyn), Montana (Stephen Daines), South Carolina
(Lindsay Graham), Georgia (David Perdue) and Kansas
(Roger Marshall), but so far the GOP senators appear to be
leading --- although their leads, in some cases, could fade in
their campaigns’ closing days.

Likewise, Republicans thought they  might pick up seats in
New Hampshire  (Jeanne Shaheen), New Mexico (Carlos
Lujan) and the already mentioned Minnesota (Tina Smith),
but these Democratic incumbents seem to now have clear

One race that could well end up in a  critical post election
2021 run-off --- and not be decided on election day --- is the
special election for U.S. senate in Georgia, a seat now held
by GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler who was appointed. The
2020 ballot has five candidates of both parties, and if none
of them receives 50% in November, a later run-off between
the top two vote-getters would take place. Conceivably, such
a run-off could decide control of the senate.

Finally, I point out a frequent occurrence in U.S. senate
election cycles, that is, the development of a close race  in
the closing days of a contest thought to be “safe” for a
Democratic or Republican incumbent. In a year of so many
other surprises, it might happen in 2020.

Several weeks ago, polling indicated a general trend to the
Democratic senate candidates. More recently, polling has
generally indicated improving conditions for Republicans.
But with an extraordinarily volatile presidential  race,
and genuinely undecided voters now making their choices,
anything could still happen in the battle for senate control.

[Just before election day, there will be a final survey  of these
races on this website.]

Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


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