With a total of 36 Senate seats up for grabs and the election only days away, yeahstub.com is taking a look at some of the more competitive races. With the balance of power on the line, there is much to be gained – or lost.
Currently, the majority in the United States Senate is held by the Democrat Party with 53 seats and two independents who caucus with them. Of those, 21 are up for election next week, the remaining 15 elections are for Republican-held seats.
Four of the Democrat seats up for reelection are considered completely untouchable by the GOP. These include Hawaii’s Brian Schatz, Delaware’s Chris Coons, Massachusetts’ Ed Markey and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed. These four races favor Democrats by upwards of 20 points, and some even approach a 50 point spread. Six more of the Democrat held seats are considered safe for them, with double digit leads in most polls for each. These include Illinois’ Dick Durbin, Minnesota’s Al Franken, New Jersey’s Cory Booker, New Mexico’s Tom Udall, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, and Virginia’s Tom Warner. Additionally, Michigan’s open race to fill the retiring Carl Levin’s seat is also heavily favoring the Democrat Gary Peters.
The GOP has nine seats that are completely out of reach for the Democrats. Maine’s Susan Collins, Texas’ John Cornyn, Wyoming’s Mike Enzi, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Idaho’s Jim Risch, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, and both of South Carolina’s races for the seats held by Lindsey Graham and a special election for Tim Scott’s seat, who was appointed following Jim Demint’s resignation last year. There are three open seats as well the GOP is experiencing little to no resistance for. The Montana seat and the Nebraska seat are to replace retiring members, and the Oklahoma seat is for the resigning Tom Coburn. Of these, only Montana is currently held by a Democrat. Much like the Democrat races, most polls in the rest of them have the incumbent party winning by over 20.
Additionally, two of the other seats Republicans hold are expected to be safe, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran. Additionally, Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas is expected to lose his bid for reelection, most polls having him down by a solid 7 or eight points. The other two races that are favoring the Republicans are South Dakota’s threeway race to fill Democrat Tim Johnson’s seat and the West Virginia race to fill Jay Rockefeller’s seat, both of whom are retiring.
For those of you keeping count, that would leave eight more races that are considered tossups.
The race for the Senate in Alaska pits the incumbent Democrat Mark Begich against GOP challenger Dan Sullivan. There is also a Libertarian challenger, Mark Fish, two independents, Ted Gianoutsos and Sid Hill, who is running a write-in campaign. Most polls have Sullivan winning by around 5 points, though that is well within the combined margin of error and undecided respondents.
Begich took over in 2008 from six term incumbent Ted Stevens under clouds of legal actions being taken against Stevens at the time. The current race is the most expensive in Alaska’s history, with money pouring into the state from outside groups on both sides of the aisle.
The North Carolina race has also been an expensive one, but on a scale that the Alaskan one can’t touch. In fact, it is the most expensive race in United States history, with over $100 million having been spent, with most of it coming from outside the state as well.
The incumbent is Democrat Kay Hagan facing off against Republican Thom Tillis and Libertarian darling Sean Haugh. The race is one of the tightest in the country, with few polls giving either side more than a two point advantage. Haugh is getting a solid five percent, making him a larger part of the conversation than most third party candidates are used to getting. The two major candidates have been chastised for their negative campaigning, but that hasn’t slowed the money from rushing in.
The Louisiana race won’t likely be decided next week. As we told you last week, the Louisiana system allows for a blanket primary on election day, and requires a runoff if no candidate is able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote. Incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu is facing challenges from the left and the right from no fewer than eight candidates in the running. For those who enjoy watching a spectacle, this one will likely be around until December.
Georgia is another race that we have told you about, and is also one that is likely to end in a runoff. Georgia’s rules, like Louisiana’s, requires that the winner receive over 50 percent of the vote. Republican David Perdue is facing off against Democrat Michelle Nunn.
Incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss is retiring, and many experts consider this race the one currently held by Republicans most likely to be picked up by Democrats. However, most polls have the race only separated by two points at 46-44, though in a runoff the Libertarian Amanda Swafford would not be a factor, so her votes could break either direction.
The Colorado race is one that we have also covered extensively here at yeahstub.com. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the race in Colorado, a normally centrist state with moderately Libertarian leanings, is that the Democrat, Mark Udall, is considered a far left member of the assembly, while the Republican, Cory Gardner, is a far right Republican. There are a slew of third party candidates as well, but they seem unlikely to have much of an impact as they are pulling from all sides of the political spectrum.
Democrat Senator Tom Harkin is retiring from the seat he has held since the early 80s. He has long been a popular Senator in the state, running primarily as a populist and a moderate in a state that prides itself as both of those things.
The Democrat challenger is Bruce Baley, the Republican is Joni Ernst and three independents are also running. Libertarian candidate Douglas Butzier will also appear on the ballot, though he died in a plane crash nearly three weeks ago. Most polls have the race tied at around 45 percent for the two major party candidates.
Kansas’ Senate seat is another that the Republicans are at risk of losing, though not to the Democrats. Incumbent Pat Roberts has been a reliable establishment Republican from a very conservative state, though incumbents are very unpopular in the Sunflower State right now.
The main challenger is unaffiliated candidate Greg Orman, with a third challenger in Libertarian Randall Batson. Most polls have the race in a dead heat between Orman and Roberts, with Orman actually leading in more than a few. Orman is running as a centrist and is receiving support from many Democrats as well as Republicans.
Of all the races currently considered tossups, the one in New Hampshire seems to be the one that has started to break one direction, and that direction is left. Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen is leading in almost every poll, and in some cases holds as many as an eight point lead.
Shaheen’s challenge comes from Republican Scott Brown, himself a former senator from Massachusetts. Libertarian Gardner Goldsmith is also running a write-in campaign, but is not garnering enough support to be considered a major factor in this race.