THE TOP 9 SENATE RACES WE’RE WATCHING
Buckle up for a dramatic, vicious, multibillion-dollar fight for control of the Senate next year, which may end with almost no changes to the chamber’s narrow partisan divide. About a dozen of those contests will be competitive. Two competing crosscurrents of this election — an unpopular Republican in the White House vs. an electoral map that puts Democrats at a major disadvantage — could cancel each other out. Republicans defend far fewer seats, and only two GOP senators are truly vulnerable: Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada. Ten Senate Democrats are up for-election in states that Trump won in 2016, and they all have targets plastered on their backs.
With so much at stake, there’s no question that both parties — and their special-interest allies — will mount a pricey, pitched battle to sway the outcome.
Blowing in the other direction? History. The party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in Congress in midterm elections. President Trump’s public approval ratings are below 40%.
Democrats would need to pick up three seats to retake control of the Senate, which is unlikely. Republicans would need a net gain of eight seats to hit the coveted 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster, which is equally far-fetched.
The political climate could change dramatically by Novem- ber 2018, resulting in major shifts in the Senate’s 52-48 partisan balance. There’s no question that both parties — and their special-interest allies — will mount a pricey, pitched battle to sway the outcome.
Here’s a race-by-race look at key contests with ratings from Inside Elections, which provides non-partisan analysis. “Tossup” indicates the race is dead even; “tilt” ratings indicate a slight edge for the specified party; and “lean” ratings indicate a definite edge but an uncertain outcome.