Battle for the Senate in 2020

Updated on February 20, 2020
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ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.

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Acquittal of Trump Is the Key

Before the impeachment of Donald Trump, chances didn't look good that the Democrats would be able to replace probably the worst Senate majority leader in the history of America. Since the acquittal in the sham trial orchestrated by Mitch McConnell, who in my opinion doesn't deserve the title of Senator, things are looking considerably brighter.

Consequently, it seemed appropriate to investigate this possibility further.

Setting the Stage

Currently, the Senate is composed of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats. One-third of the Senators, plus or minus, are up for election each year. In 2020, there are 35 seats up for grabs including two special elections in Arizona and Georgia; both Republican seats. Of the remaining 33, 21 are Republican seats and 12 are Democratic. To take over the Senate, the Democrats need to flip a net of 3 seats and the presidency. Otherwise, they will need to flip 4 seats.

This article will pull together information from multiple sources to offer a comprehensive view and analysis of the 2020 Senate races. The table below tells you who is running.

STATE
INCUMBENT
OPPONENT
CURRENT PREDICTION
 
AK - R (31)
Dan Sullivan (R)
Al Gross (I) and David Matheny (I)
SAFE R
 
AL - R (32)
Doug Jones (D)
Seven Rs Declared. Strongest are Jeff Sessions; Bradly Byrne, and Tommy Tuberville; Several Independents have declared as well. NOTE: It is a jungle primary.
- 5.9 points
 
AR - R (33)
Tom Cotton (R)
Dan Whittfield (I)
SAFE R
 
AZ - D (36)
Martha McSally (R -special)
Facing at least three GOP primary challengers as well as Mark Kelly (D)
- 2.0 points
 
CO - D? (37)
Cory Gardner (R)
John Hickenlooper (D) only real opponent
- 12.0 points
 
DE - D (38)
Christopher Coons (D)
Lauren Witzke (R)
SAFE D
 
GA - D? (39)
Kelly Loeffler (R - special)
Doug Collins (R), Wayne Johnson (R), Matt Lieberman (D), Ed Tarver (D), Raphael Warnock (D), Richard Dien Winfield
- 10 points
 
GA - R (34)
David Perdue (R)
Democrats: Sarah Riggs Amico, Akhenaten Amun, Marckeith DeJesus, Maya Dillard-Smith, Jon Ossoff, Teresa Tomlinson, Elaine Williams
+ 14 points
 
ID - R (35)
Jim Risch (R)
Democrats - Paulette Jordan, Nancy Harris, Travis Oler, James Vandermaas
SAFE R
 
IA - R? (36)
Joni Ernst
Democrats - Michael T. Franken, Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield, Eddie Mauro, Cal Wood
+ 6.5 points
 
IL - D (40)
Dick Durbin
Republicans - Casey Chlebek, Mark Curran, Peggy Hubbard, Robert Marshall, Tom Tarter
SAFE D
 
KS - R (37)
Pat Roberts (R - not running)
Republicans - Kris Kobach, Dave Lindstrom, Roger Marshall, Brian Matlock, Steve Roberts, Susan Wagle; Democrats - Barbara Bollier, Usha Reddi, Robert Tillman
Even
 
KY - R? (38)
Mitch McConnell (R)
Democrats - Jimmy Ausbrooks, Charles Booker, Mike Broihier, Andrew Maynard, Amy McGrath, Eric Rothmuller, John R. Sharpensteen, Bennie J. Smith, Mary Ann Tobin
+ 1.0 points !!
 
LA - R (39)
Bill Cassidy (R)
Antoine Pierce
SAFE R
 
MA - D (41)
Ed Markley (D)
Joe Kennedy III (D); No Republican challenger yet
SAFE D
 
ME - R? (40)
Susan Collins (R)
Republican - Michael Bunker, Sara Gideon, Bre Kidman, Ross LaJeunesse, Betsy Sweet also three independents and one Green party
+ 5 points
 
MI - D? (42)
Gary Peters (D)
Bob Carr (R), John James (R)
+ 4 points
 
MN - D (43)
Tina Smith (D)
Rob Barrett Jr. (R), Jason Lewis (R), Theron Preston Washington (R)
LIKELY D
 
MS - R (41)
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R_
Tobee Bartee (D), Jensen Bohren (D), Mike Espy (D)
+ 8 points
 
MT - R (42)
Steve Daines (R)
Democrats - Wilmot Collins, Mike Knoles, John Mues, Cora Neumann
LIKELY D
 
NE - R (43)
Ben Sasse (R)
Matt Ennis (R), Democrats - Chris Janicek, Dennis Frank Maček, Larry Marvin, Angie Philips, Alisha Shelton, Dan Wik
SAFE R
 
NC - D? (44)
Tom Tillis (R)
Republicans - Larry Holmquist, Sharon Hudson, Paul Wright; Shannon Bray (L); Kevin E. Hayes (C); Democrat - Cal Cunningham, Trevor Fuller, Atul Goel, Erica D. Smith, Steve Swenson
- 1.1 points
 
NH - D (45)
Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Don Bolduc (R), Bryant Messner (R), Bill O'Brien (R); Justin O'Donnell (L)
+ 11 points
 
NJ - D (46)
Cory Booker(D)
Tricia Flanagan (R), Rik Mehta (R), Natalie Lynn Rivera (R), Natalie Lynn Rivera(R)
SAFE D
 
NM - D (47)
Tom Udall (D - not running)
Ben Ray Luján (D), Andrew Perkins (D); Republican - Gavin Clarkson, Elisa Martinez, Mick Rich, Mark Ronchetti, Louie Sanchez
+ 19 points
 
OK - R (44)
Jim Inhoff (R - hasn't declared yet))
J.J. Stitt (R); Democrat - Abby Broyles, Tyler Dougherty, Bevon Rogers, Mike Workman
SAFE R
 
OR - D (48)
Jeff Merkley (D)
Michael David (D); Jo Rae Perkins (R), Paul Romero (R), Robert Schwartz (R)
SAFE D
 
RI - D (49)
Jack Reed (D)
Allen Waters (R)
SAFE D
 
SC - R? (45)
Lindsey Graham (R)
Several Republican challengers have declared; Jamie Harrison (D), Matthew Knights (D), William Stone (D), Justin Wooton
+ 10 points
 
SD - R (46)
Mike Rounds (R)
Scyller Borglum (R): Dan Ahlers (D), Clara Hart
SAFE R
 
TN - R (47)
Lamar Alexander (R - not running)
Republican - Josh Gapp, Bill Hagerty, Stokes Nielson, Aaron Pettigrew, Johnny Presley, Manny Sethi: Democrat - Marquita Bradshaw, Gary G. Davis, James Mackler, Diana C. Onyejiaka
SAFE R
 
TX - R (48)
John Cornyn (R)
Republican - Virgil Bierschwale, John Anthony Castro, Dwayne Stovall, Mark Yancey: Democratic - Chris Bell, Joshua Bowser, Michael Cooper, Amanda Edwards, Jack Daniel Foster, Jr., Annie "Mamá" Garcia, Victor Hugo Harris, MJ Hegar, Sema Hernandez, D.R. Hunter, Adrian Ocegueda, Adrian Ocegueda, Royce West
+14.3 points
 
VA - D (50)
Mark Warner (D)
Republican - Alissa Baldwin, Blaine Dunn, Omari Faulkner, Roger Franklin, Daniel Gade, Thomas Speciale, Victor Williams
SAFE D
 
WV - R (49)
Shelley Capito (R)
Allen Whitt (R): Richard Ojeda (D), Richie Robb (D), Paula Jean Swearengin (D)
SAFE R
 
WY - R (50)
Mike Enzi (R - not running)
Mark Armstrong (R), Cynthia Lummis (R), Joshua Wheeler (R); Merav Ben-David (D), Chuck Jagoda (D), Yana Ludwig (D)
SAFE R
 
The number in parentheses is the count of seats each party will hold if that is the actual state outcome. At the moment, if the Democrats win the White House, they will control the Senate. If not, the Republicans will.

Sen. Doug Jones (AL)

2/16/2020: Doug Jones won in the very deep red state of Alabama. Two principal reasons were behind this momentous upset. One was his opponent, Roy Moore, an extremely flawed extreme candidate who had twice been removed from a judgeship and credibly accused of inappropriate contact with minors. The other was Jones was able to mobilize the large black population in Alabama.

Right now, he is down 5.9 points to his main Republican opponents. It looks like Jeff Sessions is the preferred Republican candidate and he is still well liked throughout the state. How much damage was done by his recusal as DOJ AG and the subsequent beating he took from Donald Trump remains to be seen. It is certainly something that Jones can use to pummel him with. In addition, there is no telling the damage each Republican candidate will accumulate during what is sure to be a mean primary fight.

Further, Jones is the incumbent which helps. His principled vote to convict Donald Trump may be lost on the Alabama voters who are, for some reason, enthralled with Trump.

I have my hopes up, but nevertheless count this as a loss to the Democrats. Meaning they need to flip 4 or 5 Republican seats, depending on who wins the presidency, to gain the majority.

Sen. Martha McSally (AZ)

2/16/2020: Senator McSally is probably in trouble. After finally being a successful candidate for Arizona's 2nd District for several years, she ran for the Senate in 2018 and was narrowly defeated by Kyrsten Sinema (D). With the death of Senator McCain, McSally was appointed to fill out his term and so became a Senator anyway. Once known as a centrist, she swung hard right and began to toe the Trump line. Her vote to acquit Donald Trump may be problematic in a state that is slowly turning blue. Worse, she is for repealing the Affordable Care Act which is not a popular position among the non hard-right electorate

To add to he worries, her Democratic opponent is Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was almost assassinated at a rally. Kelly is extremely popular, well funded, and has a compelling message. Currently, Kelly is up 2 points in the polls.

Given her vote for Trump and against ACA, I have a hard time seeing how she pulls this one out against Mark Kelly. I think this is one of the flips the Democrats need.

Sen. Cory Gardner (CO)

20/16/2020: At this point in time, Gardner is down 12 points in the polls. He squeaked to a win in 2014 in a state that is increasingly Blue. His opponent is the very popular former governor John Hickenlooper, an early challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination. Like McSally, Gardner voted not to hear witnesses, something 70% of his constituents wanted in Trump's impeachment. He subsequently voted to acquit Trump as part of a sham trial run by Mitch McConnell. He also opposes the now popular Affordable Care Act and the pre-existing condition exemption.

This should be a sure win for the Democrats and the second seat they will flip.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (GA)

2/17/2020: This is a very interesting situation! Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp, over the objections of Donald Trump, to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson who retired. Trump wanted Rep Doug Collins and Kemp rebuffed him. Now, Collins is attempting to primary Loeffler, and according to at least one December poll is beating her badly.

When Collins is put against one of the Democrats running, Collins is losing by 10 points; Loeffler by a lot more.

At least at the moment, it looks like this will the third Democratic flipped seat.

Sen. Joni Ernst (IA)

2/17/2020: Even though Ernst is ahead by 6.5 points and is popular in Iowa, I include her here as a possible Democratic pick-up. This reason is the same as the others, she voted not to have witnesses which must of her Republican supporters wanted, she voted to acquit Trump, and she wants to get rid of pre-existing conditions as well as the rest of ACA.

One more factor against Ernst is that her state doesn't like Trump very much. In the January Morning Consult tracking poll, Trump is down 9 points. Compare this to where Trump stood in Jan 2017 - Up 9 points. In full disclosure, Trump is on the rise—in Jan 2019, Trump was down 14 points.

Even though Iowa may be a problem for Ernst, I will leave her in the win column for Republicans.

Sen. Pat Roberts (KS)

2/17/2020: Sen. Roberts will retire, so his seat is open. Normally, I would say this is a slam dunk Republican win, but the Republicans worry very much that Kris Kobach, a very far right-wing conservative who lost the governorship of Kansas to a Democrat. A single poll has Kobach and one of the Democrats tied.

Again, because Kansas is normally a very red state, I will 1) wait to see if Kobach wins and 2) wait for a few more polls to come in before I start thinking about the Democrats winning this state.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY)

2/17/2020: Mitch McConnell may be in grave danger of holding his seat. He has done several things as Leader, which makes patriotic Americans, even Republican ones, wonder about his own patriotism—of putting country above party or above Trump. The strikes against him are the following:

  1. His unconstitutional withholding of Judge Merrick Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court.
  2. His turning the impeachment trial into a sham trial or no trial at all. 70% of Republicans wanted witnesses which he worked hard to prevent. And Americans ultimately believe in a fair justice system, e.g. a fair trial.

Further, his likely opponent, Amy McGrath, a very popular military veteran, is well funded and very aggressive. The only poll, a July one, between McConnell and McGrath had McConnell only one point ahead.

This is another one to watch.

Sen. Susan Collins (ME)

2/20/2020: Currently, Collins is 5 points ahead of her Democratic rivals with the latest poll result - which may be a result of her recent votes. One would think that is a safe margin, but in this case, I think not. Her Democratic opponents have yet to coalesce and they need more funding for a concerted ad campaign.

Her weaknesses are her very unpopular vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of rape early in his life and his opposition to Roe v. Wade, for the Supreme Court and her vote to acquit Donald Trump in his impeachment sham trial. Half of Maine is Blue while the other half, which is still Red, is shifting Blue. Also, Mainers believe more than most in a fair justice system and the sham trial of Donald Trump was anything but.

I am not counting on this to flip yet, but I would not be surprised.

Sen. Gary Peters (MI)

2/18/2020: I include Sen. Peters here because polling only has him with a 4 point lead. Because the winds are blowing in the Democrats direction, he is probably safe, but that is a very small margin.

Sen. Tom Tillis (NC)

2/18/2020: Sen Tillis barely won is first election and he has gone 100% in for Trump in a state that is moving from Red to Blue. Trump carried North Carolina in 2016, barely. Right now, Morning Consult has Trump down by 1 point. That is up from a negative 4 in May but down from even last month.

Tillis is so worried, that his supporters have started to support the candidacy of a challenger to Tillis' main opponent, Cal Cunningham. A Republican PAC has been running ads in favor of Cunningham's opponent.

Given he is down 1.1 points after several current polls, I am counting this as a probable forth flip from Republican to Democrat and will give the Democrats the majority.

Sen. Lindsay Graham

2/18/2020: Once a well respected senator, Graham has been infected by Trump and lost his moral compass. While once thought a shoe-in for re-election, his supplication to Trump, his declaration that he was biased in the Trump impeachment, that he intentionally violated his oath of office and his impeachment oath, and his obvious decision to put Trump over country has made him vulnerable.

His main Democratic opponent, Jamie Harrison, has had one poll within 2 points, but the rest had him closer to 10 points behind. Of interest though, Graham has not polled over 52%, Time will tell.

There is a lot more to cover, and I will continue to update this article with new information as these races develop. I thought I would publish it at this stage anyway because at least I find it interesting. Hopefully you will, too.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Scott Belford

    Comments

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      • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

        Scott Belford 

        3 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

        What is a "cropper"?

      • emge profile image

        MG Singh 

        3 months ago from Singapore

        I am not sure but I have a gut feeling that the Dem candidate whosever he is is going to come a cropper.

      • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

        Scott Belford 

        3 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

        Thanks for the comment Doris, you may very well be right. My money is going to Biden for president and Harrison (SC) and McGrath (KY). When I know who to support in Maine, I will help them as well. I might help Kelly (AZ) but I don't think he will need it.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        3 months ago from Beautiful South

        All I can say is "hmmm, sounds about right." My husband does a podcast on Friday afternoons, and we keep hearing that a lot of disgruntled Republicans will be voting against Trump. But if Bernie wins the Demos primary, I doubt that. I have no proof, just hearsay, however, a lot of things can change either way by election time.

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