Why You Should Focus on the Senate Democrats (and how to adopt-a-Senator)

These are the twelve incumbent Senators whom you should be paying attention to.

With the midterms less than 50 days out, now is the time to pay attention to the balance of power in the Senate.

At present, the Senate breakdown is 51/49, with the Senate Democrats in the minority. With confirmation votes and specific forms of legislation usually only requiring a simple majority or 51 votes, the Senate Democrats have largely been unable to block President Trump and the GOP’s agenda, in the first two years of the administration.

The current split is why controversial legislation like the tax bill have passed despite the best efforts of Democrats and activists alike, and the current nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), hinges on the votes of swing GOP senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

But a ray of hope may be on the horizon. It looks increasingly like Democrats have several paths to retaking the Senate come November — as difficult as it might be — if two things are achieved:

1. Holding the seats of all incumbent Senate Dems

© Center for Politics: http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2018-senate/

As most political watchers know by now, Senate Democrats have an incredibly challenging map this election cycle. 26 seats are up for reelection (24 Dems + 2 independents), and several of those seats are in states Trump won with double digits.

While a handful of the twelve incumbent Senate Democrats are currently leading in the polls, others are either in toss-up races, or races that are lean GOP — e.g. Senator Bill Nelson in Florida, who is in a contentious battle with Florida Governor Rick Scott, to retain his seat.

The twelve critical seats are:

Bill Nelson of Florida

Joe Donnelly of Indiana

Debbie Stabenow of Michigan

Claire McCaskill of Missouri

Angus King of Maine

Jon Tester of Montana

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota

Sherrod Brown of Ohio

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania

Tim Kaine of Virginia

Joe Manchin of West Virginia

Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin

But if we’re able to retain all of the incumbent Senate Democrats in this cycle, that means we’ll be able to hold onto all 49 seats, which factors directly into our second step.

2. Flip two (or more!) GOP seats

Know the names and faces of these Senate Democrat challengers!

If all 49 incumbent Senate Democrats are retained, then we only need two more to get to 51 and flip the senate.

Luckily, there are some genuinely fantastic Democrats working to challenge the open GOP seats up for reelection this year, including

These five viable races: (and left to right in the picture)

While none of these candidates have an overwhelming lead in the polls at the moment — most are dead even, or separated by a few points — enough energy and turnout could help push these candidates over the finish line on November 6th. Any combination of two of these candidates winning(or more!) will help us take the Senate.


So with all of this information in mind, what can you do?

In a nutshell, pick Senators from both the incumbent and challenger categories to support. Your support can range from:

  • Volunteering — both in-person and digitally!

In-person, you can help phone bank, canvass, organize the office — basically, anything you might do in a normal office.

If you live in a different state than any senator you might want to support, you can reach out and ask if you can do online items, e.g. digitally phone bank.

  • Donating

Every campaign needs money to function, and any amount you might be able to donate, will make a difference.

If you’re ever concerned about how a candidate might be spending donations, you can track their filings at FEC.gov, which will include breakdowns of spending on everything from office supplies to campaign salaries.

  • Learning their platforms and spreading the word

This one is critical, and easily done. A lot of disinformation spreads quickly these days on social media. Learning the platforms of these candidates — e.g. what they’ve said on gun control! Whether they’ve announced a no vote on Kavanaugh — can help combat any bad information, and also help spread the word for what they’re trying to do.

E.g. A common misconception for some red state Democrats, is the belief they vote with Trump more often than they do.

By learning their positions, and checking out their voting record on websites like FiveThirtyEight, you can help clear up internet rumors.

If you notice those Senators doing something specific like Claire McCaskill’s current focus on spotlighting those with pre-existing conditions, you can also help boost and support those efforts.

If you need help deciding which of the twelve incumbent Senate Democrats to focus on, we’ve aggregated their biographies and key issues on Road to 18.


With so many factors at play, the possibility of the Senate being flipped looks greater than ever. Let’s pitch in, do our work, and make this happen.