The Six Races that will Determine the Senate

In recent weeks, the battleground in the race for control of the U.S. Senate has solidified, and while some contests that we anticipated would be competitive have faded from view, control of the chamber is still in doubt. As other observers have suggested, control of the Senate now hinges on six contests — Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. In most cases, the outcome of the presidential race will play a big role.

Two Going Blue

At the very least, the Democrats will likely capture two current Republican seats in Illinois and Wisconsin. Illinois is not expected to be competitive in the presidential race, and polls have shown Democrat Tammy Duckworth with a consistent lead. In Wisconsin, Russ Feingold appears poised to reclaim his former seat over Republican Ron Johnson. Barring unforeseen events, these seats will go blue in November. Assuming the Democrats win these seats leaves them three seats shy of taking control of the Senate.

Off the Radar

When we first looked at the playing field for this cycle in January 2015, we expected competitive races in Florida and Ohio, contests that would mirror a presidential race that will almost certainly be competitive in both states. But in recent weeks, the Republican candidates, Marco Rubio and Rob Portman, have solidified their advantages.

Indiana — Evan Bayh versus Natural Tendencies (Toss-up)

When former Senator Evan Bayh unexpectedly entered the Senate race in Indiana, the polls jumped in his favor, as some of the excitement and initial nostalgia catapulted him to a lead. But, as expected, the initial polls were overestimating Bayh’s support, given Indiana’s natural voting tendencies, which are heavily Republican. Unlike other contests this cycle, this race is less about turnout and singularly focuses on the pull of the Bayh name. Hillary Clinton will most likely lose the state by double digits, so the race will depend on ticket-splitters. Polling has been sparse, but we anticipate an outcome within 4 points either way. (Read More)

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