Discussion: (0 comments)
There are no comments available.
A public policy blog from AEI
Can anyone doubt, after these past two weeks’ controversy over the Kavanaugh nomination, that control of the Senate is the big enchilada of the off-year elections this year?
It’s been obvious that the lineup of Senate seats up this year has been favorable to Republicans and is as unfavorable to Democrats as perhaps any in history. The Democrats have 26 seats up this year, including 10 in states carried by President Donald Trump in 2016; Republicans have only nine seats up, only one in a state carried by Hillary Clinton.
Democrats are making serious challenges in four Republican-held states. They hold narrow single-digit leads in polling (in the realclearpolitics.com average of recent polls) in Nevada against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller and in Arizona against Republican nominee Rep. Martha McSally. In longer shots, Rep. Beto O’Rourke is waging a vigorous campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, as is former Gov. Phil Bredesen against Republican nominee Rep. Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee.
But both O’Rourke and Bredesen are trailing, and polling suggests that the Kavanaugh controversy has increased Republican voters’ enthusiasm about voting (Bredesen announced he would have voted to confirm Kavanaugh). Arizona and Nevada could obviously go either way, but it looks like Tennessee and Texas are slated to come off the table.
Republicans clearly are competitive in the five states which gave Trump double-digit margins over Clinton where they’re challenging incumbents. Sen. Joe Manchin’s vote to confirm Kavanaugh may have cemented the lead he had held over Rep. Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia, but Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s vote against Kavanaugh, together with two polls showing her trailing Rep. Kevin Cramer by double digits, suggests she’s given up in North Dakota, which gave Trump a 36 point margin. That looks like the surest turnover for either party in this year’s Senate races.
That leaves three Democratic senators in very close races in states which Trump carried by 19 or 20 points: Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Jon Tester of Montana. Any of them could win, but none of them has been averaging 50 percent or more in recent polls — a bad sign for an incumbent. It would not be a shock — or shouldn’t be — if all three lost.
In addition, there’s Florida — a one-point state for President Trump in 2016 and President Obama in 2012 — where Gov. Rick Scott was leading three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in polls in August and was trailing in September, all by narrow margins. Scott has shown himself capable of self-funding $100 million or more in a campaign; and, with Hurricane Michael pending, he has shown himself capable of handling hurricanes to voters’ great satisfaction. This must be seen as a competitive race.
All of which leaves Republicans with a small advantage in the odds. They have two seats at serious risk, while the Democrats have four at serious risk and another, North Dakota, which looks like a sure loss. It’s not so surprising that Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com has raised its estimate of Republicans’ chances of holding their Senate majority from 67 percent to 70 percent last week to 79 percent today.
Join the AEI Election Watch team on November 8 for lunch to discuss what happened and what it means. Click here for details.
There are no comments available.
1789 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
© 2018 American Enterprise Institute