The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip, 3 weeks from Election Day


Republicans had been optimistic {that a} Supreme Court emptiness would impress their supporters — and with confirmation hearings for nominee Amy Coney Barrett starting this week, they could nonetheless see that enhance. But the listening to may additionally give Democrats an opportunity to prosecute their arguments on well being care, a profitable concern for them within the 2018 midterm elections. Democratic nominee Joe Biden led Trump 53% to 42% in CNN’s poll of polls as of Sunday. And three weeks from Election Day, with hundreds of thousands of voters already casting their ballots, the nationwide environment seems to be benefiting Democrats working for Senate — even when one in all their candidates in a top-tier race is dealing with destructive headlines about his private life.

The first presidential debate, throughout which Trump refused to condemn White supremacy, did not assist down-ballot Republicans. And his analysis with Covid-19, adopted by that of three GOP senators, might have solely cemented the pandemic — and Trump’s poor dealing with of it — in voters’ minds, making it harder for Republicans to pivot to the financial message that they assume is their greatest play for 2020.

Blue states like Colorado and Maine now look even more durable for Republicans. Despite Sen. Susan Collins being a longtime incumbent, who’s arguably a greater candidate than first-term Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, Maine now strikes forward of North Carolina on this record of seats most likely to flip partisan management.

South Carolina has been on this prime 10 record for the reason that finish of August. Democrat Jaime Harrison introduced over the weekend that he had raised $57 million within the third quarter, shattering the earlier quarterly document for a Senate candidate set by Beto O’Rourke in 2018. The fundraising disparity is a giant drawback for GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has his second within the highlight through the week’s affirmation hearings.

But it is not simply Harrison who’s elevating spectacular sums. Democrats in different historically purple states additionally raked within the money from July via September. Fundraising stories due on Thursday will give a greater sense of the disparities between Democratic challengers and GOP incumbents.

The senator most likely to lose continues to be a Democrat — Doug Jones of Alabama — whereas Democratic Sen. Gary Peters nonetheless faces a aggressive race in Michigan. But eight of the highest 10 seats most likely to flip are nonetheless held by Republicans, who’re defending 23 seats this yr to Democrats’ 12. Democrats want a internet acquire of 4 seats to flip the chamber — or three in the event that they win the White House, for the reason that vp breaks ties within the Senate. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, a CNN contributor, tasks Democrats will acquire three to 5 seats.

Democrats’ technique for profitable these seats appears comparable to their 2018 House technique: Make positive there are challengers in purple states who can elevate cash and reap the benefits of a good surroundings. More so than a number of weeks in the past, Kansas, Alaska and Texas look aggressive, partly, due to Democrats’ fundraising, though none make this record. Both events agree that Kansas, the place Republican Roger Marshall has struggled to elevate cash, deserves an honorable point out on the record because it’s attracting critical spending. Including promoting spending to date and future reservations from candidates and out of doors teams, Democrats are spending almost $26 million to Republicans’ $30 million within the Sunflower State, in accordance to a CNN evaluation of CMAG information as of Monday.

Another race that is making Republicans nervous is the second US Senate seat in Georgia, a demographically altering state. Appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler is on the poll with candidates of all events, together with a Republican congressman who’s pushing her to the appropriate. A Quinnipiac University poll from late September confirmed Democrats beginning to coalesce round Raphael Warnock, who led with 31%, adopted by Loeffler and GOP Rep. Doug Collins within the lows 20s. However, given the unpredictability of a likely runoff — and who makes it to the highest two slots — it is too early to know whether or not this seat will flip.

Here are the seats most likely to flip:

1. Alabama

Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Doug Jones

No matter how good nationwide polling appears for Biden, it is not likely to get Jones throughout the end line in such a Republican state. Tommy Tuberville’s advertisements examine all bins of Republican messaging: He guarantees to assist Trump “drain the swamp,” whereas sandwiching Jones between Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most importantly, although, he isn’t dealing with allegations of sexual assault, which ought to be sufficient for a Republican to win right here after Jones solely narrowly defeated the scandal-plagued Roy Moore in a 2017 particular election.

2. Colorado

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Cory Gardner

There simply is not a lot of a path for Gardner to dangle on in a state that is likely to soundly reject the President in November. In an effort to court docket ticket-splitting voters, a current Gardner spot touts the bipartisan cut up in Colorado’s Senate delegation. “You choose one Republican and one Democrat, and it works,” Gardner says as an image of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet flashes onscreen. Bennet, nonetheless, would not assume it really works — he shortly reiterated his assist for Democratic former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has introduced elevating almost $23 million within the third quarter. And whereas Gardner’s advertisements do not characteristic Trump, he hasn’t made the identical dedication as Collins — for instance, to oppose the President’s Supreme Court nominee earlier than the election — as a result of any path to victory requires GOP base voters displaying up for him.

3. Arizona

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Martha McSally

The solely factor that offers McSally a barely higher shot of holding on than Gardner is that Arizona may very well be extra aggressive on the presidential stage, though public polling earlier this month gave Biden an edge right here. Trump carrying the state may doubtlessly enhance the previous congresswoman, who was appointed to this seat after dropping the 2018 Senate race. But she’s nonetheless in a bind when it comes to shoring up conservative assist and interesting to suburban moderates, as a recent debate showed when she wouldn’t say whether or not she’s happy with her assist for Trump. She’s up in opposition to a well-funded Democrat in NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

4. Maine

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Susan Collins

Collins strikes up a spot on this record, that means she’s now extra likely to lose than she was two weeks in the past. The Supreme Court struggle has nationalized the race and put contemporary scrutiny on Collins’ 2018 vote for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which Democrats are actually extra aggressively deploying in messaging in opposition to her. But the four-term senator’s greatest drawback may very well be ranked-choice voting, which kicks in if no candidate receives a majority. With current polling displaying Collins beneath the 50% threshold, it is tough to envision her profitable outright. And if she would not, she’ll have to cope with the supporters of third-party candidates doubtlessly throwing their assist to Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon. Inside Elections shifted the race from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic originally of the month.

5. North Carolina

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Thom Tillis

Shortly after being sidelined by a Covid-19 analysis, Tillis might have caught a break, though it stays to be seen how Democrat Cal Cunningham’s sex scandal may shake up a race that Republicans acknowledge very a lot wanted shaking up. The Army reservist and Democratic former state senator raised greater than $28 million within the third quarter and had been persistently outraising Tillis and main in polling. Republicans argue that Cunningham’s alleged extramarital affair undermines the marketing campaign pitch he is made to be a person of character. Both Tillis and GOP outdoors teams had been fast to seize on the issue of their advertisements. But there aren’t sufficient new information to know the way the most recent headlines will have an effect on the race, with Democrats skeptical that it will transfer many citizens, particularly as a whole bunch of 1000’s of them have already solid their ballots. At this level, Tillis shifting down on this record is extra a mirrored image of Collins’ worsening fortunes in Maine than any actual brightening of his personal prospects.

6. Iowa

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Joni Ernst

With the presidential race shut in Iowa, the Senate race stays a Toss-up. Democrat Theresa Greenfield loved a slight lead, 50% to 45%, over Ernst amongst likely voters in an early October Quinnipiac University poll. Ernst continues to be having to apologize for expressing skepticism concerning the coronavirus loss of life toll, which is not what Republicans need to be speaking about. She’s working an ad that includes the state’s senior senator, Chuck Grassley. Meanwhile, Greenfield is touting assist from Republicans and small companies homeowners. Having raised almost $29 million within the third quarter — a staggering sum that is dwarfed solely by this quarter’s different unusually excessive and record-breaking hauls — Greenfield ought to have loads of sources to carry that message via Election Day. But this is without doubt one of the locations the place Republicans are hoping a Supreme Court battle energizes conservatives and tilts the state again their approach.

7. Montana

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Steve Daines

Daines faces higher odds than a few of his Republican colleagues who’re working in states the place Biden is forward. Trump is not likely to carry Big Sky Country by the identical 21-point margin he did in 2016, however he’ll likely nonetheless win right here. That’s not essentially a deal-breaker for two-term Gov. Steve Bullock, although, who’s proved he can win statewide on the similar time Trump carries the state. Democrats are leaning into their well being care message right here, with Bullock speaking about his personal son’s coronary heart stopping in a current ad about defending protection for preexisting circumstances. Donning his personal barn coat, Daines is on air attempting to tie Bullock to nationwide Democrats on gun management and taxes, claiming the Democrat is “backed by the liberal mob.”

8. Georgia

Incumbent: Republican Sen. David Perdue

Republicans are anxious about how the diversifying and well-educated suburbs outdoors of Atlanta may imperil their maintain on the state. The destiny of first-term Sen. Perdue might have rather a lot to do with the highest of the ticket. A Biden win right here would enhance Democrat Jon Ossoff, who misplaced an costly House particular election in 2017. But whereas Georgia, based mostly on demographics and top-of-the-ticket competitiveness, appears like a tougher state for Republicans to maintain, Perdue’s saving grace could also be a runoff. If neither candidate receives a majority of the vote in November, they will advance to a January contest, the place Ossoff would not have the identical presidential momentum behind him.

9. South Carolina

Incumbent: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham

No one’s doubting whether or not this can be a race anymore, with public polling persistently displaying the candidates tied. Democrat Jaime Harrison’s eye-popping $57 million haul within the third quarter will give him loads of sources to talk and assist end up the vote within the ultimate stretch. He’s now getting outdoors help from nationwide Democratic teams too. Graham has publicly pleaded for monetary help, however funding from outdoors GOP teams is not likely to stage the spending enjoying area, particularly when candidates get extra favorable TV charges than outdoors teams. Republicans are hoping that this week’s Supreme Court affirmation hearings will drive conservatives to Graham, who wants to coalesce assist on the appropriate. Democrats try to exploit that hole with a current advert from Senate Majority PAC that options a golfer complaining that Graham hasn’t taken benefit of his entry to the President. A brand new 60-second Harrison spot, narrated by Viola Davis, options two White voters exchanging anxious glances after which refined smiles as one girl vegetation a Harrison register her entrance yard, whereas her neighbor waters his garden. The implicit message? It’s OK to vote for a Democrat in South Carolina. A 3rd-party candidate dropped out of the race and endorsed Graham, however his identify continues to be on the poll, which implies he may take some votes from the senator that Graham cannot afford to lose.

10. Michigan

Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Gary Peters

Michigan could also be shifting away from Trump on the presidential stage, however the Senate race continues to be shut. A New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday put Peters at 43% to Republican John James’ 42% amongst likely voters, which is far tighter than a June survey from the identical pollsters that had Peters 10 factors forward. And Republicans argue that Democrats would not be spending right here if Peters had been in higher form. Including promoting spending to date and future reservations from candidates and out of doors teams, Democrats are spending about $55 million in contrast with Republicans’ $43.5 million, in accordance to a CNN evaluation of CMAG information as of Monday. It’s the uncommon race the place the Republican candidate hasn’t been lagging in fundraising. Peters and James each introduced elevating $14 million within the third quarter. Recent Republican promoting ties Peters to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, but when Biden does nicely right here, it turns into tougher for James to pull off an upset, particularly if Republicans do not see the sort of tightening on the prime of ticket that they’d hoped for originally of the autumn.

CNN’s David Wright contributed to this report.





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