According to a new report from TheHill, the Democrats chance to flip the Senate in November may hinge on 4 races.
By Max Greenwood – The Hill
Democrats are racing to broaden their path to the Senate majority in November, while Republicans are spending heavily in an effort to hold their control over the chamber.
With 200 days to go until Election Day, the Democrats’ path to a Senate majority currently hinges on four states: Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina, where Republican incumbents are fighting off challenges from well-funded Democratic opponents.
Democrats need to flip three or four seats, depending on which party wins the White House in November, to take control of the Senate. But one of their incumbents up for reelection this year, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), is in serious political jeopardy, meaning that Democrats will likely have to take at least four Republican-held seats — and hold back GOP challenges in nearly a dozen other states — to win a majority.
Also weighing over the battle for control of the Senate are the presidential race and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has upended the election cycle and now looms as perhaps the biggest variable in 2020.
“A presidential campaign always has the longest and most powerful coattails,” former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said. “If President Trump is perceived to be doing well, it will retain the Senate Republican majority. If in October he’s underwater, then the Democrats could take the Senate.”
Democrats’ softest target may be in Colorado, where Sen. Cory Gardner (R) is facing changing political headwinds and a challenge from John Hickenlooper, the state’s popular former Democratic governor and the prohibitive front-runner in a crowded primary field.
The party is also confident of defeating Sen. Martha McSally (R) in Arizona. McSally already lost a bid against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in 2018 and took office only after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
And in Maine, Democrats have it out for Sen. Susan Collins (R), a four-term senator whose vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations touched off a flurry of anger from the left. She’s widely expected to face Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, the Democratic front-runner, in November.
Democrats are also looking to oust Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in North Carolina. He’s set to face off against national Democrats’ candidate of choice, Cal Cunningham, in November, and recent polls suggest a tight race.
A survey from the Democrat-leaning firm Public Policy Polling released this week showed Cunningham leading Tillis by a 7-point margin, while a poll from the conservative Civitas Institute out last week put Tillis ahead by 4 points.
Outside groups on both sides of the aisle have poured money into all four states in recent months.
The Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), booked a combined $43.7 million in fall ad reservations across the four battleground states late last month, along with another $32.6 million in Iowa and Kentucky.
And just this week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, invested some $33 million in advertising across seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), booked more than $56 million in fall ad reservations across the four key states, plus an additional $13.1 million in fall ad reservations in Iowa.
For now, Democrats appear to have the edge in fundraising. Federal Election Commission filings covering the first three months of 2020 showed Democrats in the four most contested states — Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina — outraising their Republican opponents by wide margins.
In Arizona, McSally’s likely opponent, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, raked in more than $11 million in the first quarter — roughly $4.6 million more than McSally.
In Colorado and North Carolina, Hickenlooper and Cunningham outraised their Republican rivals by about $1.6 million each. And in Maine, Gideon raised nearly three times more than Collins, bringing in about $7.1 million to Collins’s $2.4 million, federal filings show.
But with Jones looking particularly vulnerable in deep-red Alabama and the fate of the White House appearing uncertain, Democrats have little room for error if they hope to net the three or four seats they need to recapture a majority in the Senate.
A failure to flip even one of the four core seats — in Arizona, Colorado, Maine or North Carolina — and a potential loss by Jones could effectively kill the party’s chances of regaining control of the chamber in 2021.
Consequently, Democrats are hoping to bring a handful of other states into play, including Iowa, where Democrats say Sen. Joni Ernst (R) is increasingly vulnerable.
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