On November 6, America will line up for what may be one of the most consequential midterms of the 21st Century. Whether it can be seen ultimately as a referendum on Donald Trump, progressivism, eroding political norms, or on identity politics remains to be seen, and even after the election, will still be largely a matter of opinion. But the consequences are clear. A wave of Democrats sweeping the House of Representatives despite an electoral system that puts them at a disadvantage spells bad news for the Trump administration and potentially for the long-term feasibility of the message of the modern Republican Party. Alternatively, a weaker-than-expected showing for Democrats, even in this favorable climate, would indicate that their emphasis on more establishment and identity-driven candidates will not yield future electoral gains.
The election for the Senate may be even more consequential than the one for the House, as Democrats have become increasingly frantic in their attempts to block the White House’s judicial nominations (only the Senate votes on confirming the president’s nominees), and potentially draw more lines in their increasing defense of free trade against the Trump administration’s escalating tariff wars and designs on revamping NAFTA.
But, despite increasingly good odds for Democrats in the House, the election for the Senate is even more inherently difficult for Democrats. This is partly because only one third of the Senate is up for election every two years. It is also partly because 2012 was an above-average performance year for Democratic senatorial candidates (keep in mind, even with a handily-re-elected Barack Obama leading the ticket, Republicans nominated some terrible candidates; please see Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock), and as a result, 26 of the 34 seats up for election are already held by Democrats, forcing them to play defense in a year they ought to be playing offense against an unpopular administration and Republican controlled Congress. . Ten of these seats are in states Trump carried outright and five of those seats are located in states that Trump carried by 18% or more over Clinton. An uphill battle, but not an impossible one. On the Republican side, only one of their Senators up for reelection (Dean Heller of Nevada) is from a state that Clinton carried, period. Despite the extraordinary disadvantages presented by this year’s electoral map, Democratic enthusiasm has intensified since the 2016 election, giving them a slight, if unduly optimistic and rapidly declining, chance of pulling it off.
With all of this in mind, The Postrider is proud to present its own ratings and predictions for the most consequential races in this year’s Senate elections.
The incumbent (or the candidate from the incumbent party) is listed on the right.
Angus King and Bernie Sanders are both independents who caucus with the Democrats, so we have included them as “Democrats” for the sake of this rating.
|19 Solid Democrat||3||2||3||2||1||5|
|Democrats Need to Win 28 Seats to Control the Senate|
|Our Projection: Democrats will win 24.7 seats, resulting in a 48-52 Senate split|
|Our Prediction: Democrats will win 27 seats, resulting in a 50-50 Senate split|
Click on a state to see the Senate race analysis