The victory by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in a special election in December did provide Democrats a potential path to a Senate majority, albeit a narrow one. The Democrats need to defend all 26 of the 34 seats they currently hold, and then flip two of the eight Republican-held seats. Those would most likely be Arizona, an open seat, and Nevada, where Sen. Dean Heller (R) is seeking a second term.
We know that the presidential party usually suffers in midterms, especially if the president is unpopular. While President Trump’s approval rating has rebounded slightly in recent weeks, moving from an average in the high 30s to one that’s now in the low 40s, his overall numbers are still weak and could just as easily fall back as the year moves on. The midterm reelection rate for non-presidential party Senate incumbents is 91% in the era of popular elections (since 1913), while it’s just 75% for presidential party incumbents. Democrats are fortunate that they have incumbents running in all 26 seats, although Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) is an appointee.
But it’s hard to understate how Republican this year’s Senate playing field is. CONT.
Kyle Kondik & Geoffrey Skelley, Sabato’s Crystal Ball