2018 Senate: Democrats start on defense but national environment will be key

At first blush, one might think that the Democrats have a decent chance of taking control of the Senate in the 2018 midterm. After all, midterms frequently break against the president’s party, which has lost an average of four seats in the 26 midterms conducted in the era of popular Senate elections (starting with the 1914 midterm). Democrats only need to win three net seats to flip their current 52-48 deficit into a 51-49 majority, a gain that would be in keeping with the average midterm performance. Additionally, midterm elections often end up becoming a negative referendum on the president, particularly if he is unpopular or the country is undergoing some sort of trauma, economic or otherwise. …

However, as we noted in a Crystal Ball piece in December, the Democrats are far overextended on this Senate map, which may preclude them from making gains even if the national environment is poor for Republicans in November 2018. CONT.

Kyle Kondik, Sabato’s Crystal Ball