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The 35 Senate seats up for grabs in November—and which races could flip Congress

  • The 35 Senate seats up for grabs in November—and which races could flip Congress

    The Republican Party has held the United States Senate ever since its blowout wins in the 2014 midterm elections. However, the political landscape is looking quite different in the year 2020—with a brutal pandemic in the coronavirus, civil unrest spurred by racial inequality and police violence, contentious Supreme Court hearings, and an embattled Republican president with low approval ratings, power in Congress has the potential to experience a significant shift this election cycle. Should the Democrats take back the Senate and the White House, and retain their majority in the House of Representatives, the Democratic Party will be in control of the federal government for the first time since the 111th Congress from 2009 to 2011.

    With the stakes so high for working families and average citizens, many who have lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic, movements for voter registration have been much louder than in previous election cycles. Candidates are under greater scrutiny, live debates are widely viewed, and fundraising against prolific incumbent Republican senators have reached noticeable highs.

    This election cycle, 23 Republican seats are up for re-election, with 12 Democratic seats contested as well. As dramatic as the presidential election of 2020 may be, the Senate elections could very well have a larger impact on Americans. Candidates are facing their constituents as early voting begins, but polling data gives some authoritative insight on how Election Day may go for them.

    Using forecast data from 270toWin and FiveThirtyEight, Stacker laid out the 35 Senate races that will be decided on Election Day—Nov. 3—and the likely outcome of each race. The 270toWin forecast takes into consideration projections from four different political pundits and rates each projected outcome either a toss-up, or safe, likely, or leaning toward one party. The FiveThirtyEight forecast uses a model that simulates each election 40,000 times to show possible outcomes and then calculates each major candidate’s chance of winning the election. Both forecasts are updated daily.

    Georgia and Louisiana will have special elections this year, which means that multiple candidates from each party are competing for the majority vote on Election Day. If no one gets a majority, the top two candidates will have a runoff election after Election Day. Additionally, most elections will have the incumbent going up against the other party’s nominated candidate, but Kansas, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Wyoming’s incumbent senators are not running for re-election. Click on to see which of these races, if any, you will have a part in.

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  • Alabama: Tommy Tuberville (R) vs. Doug Jones (D)

    - Incumbent: Doug Jones (Democrat, senator since 2018)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: leans Republican
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: 76 in 100 Republican

    Alabama Sen. Doug Jones is the first Democrat to represent the Southern state since 1997, only eking out a 2017 win against Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who formerly held Jones’ seat, mounted a campaign to win it back, but former football coach Tommy Tuberville won the Republican primary against Sessions with an endorsement from Donald Trump. Despite the Democrats narrowly gaining this seat in the Trump-friendly Deep South, they are expected to lose it to the more conservative Tuberville.

    [Pictured: Sen. Doug Jones.]

  • Alaska: Dan Sullivan (R) vs. Al Gross (D)

    - Incumbent: Dan Sullivan (Republican, senator since 2015)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: leans Republican
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: 78 in 100 Republican

    Alaska has been a safe Republican state for the past few decades, with incumbent Dan Sullivan expected to retain his seat. Sullivan faces off against independent Al Gross, son of former Alaska Attorney General Avrum Gross, and an independent who has the support of the Democratic Party. Despite trailing in the polls, Gross has received an influx of funds and donations, making Alaska slightly more competitive than expected.

    [Pictured: Sen. Dan Sullivan.]

  • Arizona: Martha McSally (R) vs. Mark Kelly (D)

    - Incumbent: Martha McSally (Republican, senator since 2019)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: leans Democratic
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: 78 in 100 Democratic

    Sen. Martha McSally has had an interesting congressional career, losing a 2018 Senate contest to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema; however, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to the vacant Senate seat that was once occupied by the late John McCain. Challenging McSally is Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, and husband to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. Kelly’s work as a part of NASA and his advocacy for gun control has made Kelly a popular figure in the country at large, and a favorite to win McSally’s seat.

    [Pictured: Sen. Martha McSally.]

  • Arkansas: Tom Cotton (R) vs. Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. (L)

    - Incumbent: Tom Cotton (Republican, senator since 2015)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: solid Republican
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: >99 in 100 Republican

    Close Trump ally Tom Cotton does not have a Democratic challenger for his seat, as the Arkansas Democratic Party failed to install a nominee. As such, Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. is the only major challenger, but Cotton has the only realistic chance of winning the race. Despite a debate scheduled between the two, Cotton refused to debate Harrington, with the latter appearing at the debate event alone.

    [Pictured: Sen. Tom Cotton.]

  • Colorado: Cory Gardner (R) vs. John W. Hickenlooper (D)

    - Incumbent: Cory Gardner (Republican, senator since 2015)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: leans Democratic
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: 79 in 100 Democratic

    Although former Gov. John Hickenlooper swore during his 2020 presidential campaign that he would not run for the Senate, Hickenlooper changed his mind shortly after dropping out of the presidential race. Incumbent Cory Gardner’s record of supporting Donald Trump’s policies has come into question, and Gardner has been losing ground in polls against the popular former governor. National Republican groups appear to have noticed as well, as they are slowing down funds toward the race.

    [Pictured: Sen. Cory Gardner.]

     

  • Delaware: Lauren Witzke (R) vs. Christopher A. Coons (D)

    - Incumbent: Christopher Coons (Democrat, senator since 2011)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: solid Democratic
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: >99 in 100 Democratic

    Delaware is a solid blue state for the Democratic Party, and as such, the race between freshman Sen. Chris Coons and Republican challenger Lauren Witzke has been largely low-key compared to the more prolific races in 2020. Although Delaware held virtual debates for its statewide contests, Coons did not participate in a discussion with Witzke.

    [Pictured: Sen. Christopher A. Coons.]

  • Georgia: David Perdue (R) vs. Jon Ossoff (D)

    - Incumbent: David Perdue (Republican, senator since 2015)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: leans Republican
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: 72 in 100 Republican

    Incumbent Sen. David Perdue has been embroiled in a number of controversies leading up to the 2020 election. For one, Perdue was implicated in congressional insider trading relating to the coronavirus; the senator also courted controversy with an advertisement that enlarged the nose of his opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, and mocking the name of vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris. Both moves have been viewed as racist attacks; regardless, Perdue is still favored to win in red Georgia.

    [Pictured: Sen. David Perdue.]

  • Georgia: special election

    - Incumbent: Kelly Loeffler (Republican, senator since 2020)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: leans Republican
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: 74 in 100 Republican

    Current Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed to her seat, and she runs the risk of losing it due to a variety of factors. As this is a special election, Georgia law has the contest as a nonpartisan election, with Loeffler running against fellow Republican Doug Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock; if no candidate wins a majority of over 50%, the contest will go to a runoff against the two top-performing candidates. While the seat may very well stay Republican, Loeffler herself has attracted controversy with her criticism of the WNBA’s support of Black Lives Matter—Loeffler owns the Atlanta Dream team—and with a television ad claiming that she is more conservative than Attila the Hun.

    [Pictured: Sen. Kelly Loeffler.]

  • Idaho: Jim Risch (R) vs. Paulette Jordan (D)

    - Incumbent: Jim Risch (Republican, senator since 2009)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: solid Republican
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: >99 in 100 Republican

    Even before his election to the Senate, Jim Risch had a long career in Idaho politics, serving in the Idaho Senate and holding the offices of Lieutenant Governor and Governor of the state. With his familiarity and name recognition in the usually red Idaho, Risch is believed to be a safe bet for his re-election campaign against Democrat Paulette Jordan.

    [Pictured: Sen. Jim Risch.]

  • Illinois: Mark C. Curran Jr. (R) vs. Richard J. Durbin (D)

    - Incumbent: Dick Durbin (Democrat, senator since 1997)
    - 270toWin forecast rating: solid Democratic
    - Chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight: >99 in 100 Democratic

    As the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin has been consistently re-elected by his constituents, and threats to his seat have been minor. This is again the case in 2020, with opponents Republican Mark Curran and Independent Willie Wilson making an opposition push against Durbin, but the polling remains in Durbin’s favor.

    [Pictured: Sen. Richard J. Durbin.]