This year 34 Senate seats are up for grabs—24 Republican and 10 Democrats. Of the 24 Republican seats 5 are in states that Obama carried in 2012 by 5 points or more and 2 are in states he carried by 3 points or more. Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics is currently projecting that the Democrats will retain (Safe or Likely) 9 of its 10 seats up this year (only Nevada is questionable-rated Toss-Up). On the other hand, Republicans can count on retaining (Safe or Likely) only 15 seats. That leaves a total of 10 Senate seats in play (Leans or Toss Up). Republicans currently hold 9 of those 10 seats in play. They are:
WI and IL—Currently Republican, Leaning Democrat.
AZ, MO, and NC—Currently Republican, Leaning Republican
FL, NH, OH, PA—Currently Republican, Toss Up
NV—Currently Democrat, Toss Up
This is where it gets really interesting. If Democrats can retain control of the White House—Hilary wins—then they only need a net gain of 4 seats to take control of the Senate. If they lose Nevada—their only toss-up—Democrats have to win just 5 of the remaining seats in play. Two (WI and IL) have already been leaning Democrat. That means they need to win 3 more out of the 4 Republican seats that are Toss Ups to control the Senate.
Those four states are FL, NH, OH and PA. So, what are their chances
Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t running for re-election (although he has been encouraged to jump back into the race. See: http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/27/politics/marco-rubio-florida-senate-jake-tapper-interview/) Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy has the backing of establishment Democrats including Obama and Biden. He has also raised a significant amount of money. On the Republican side, two moderates may split the vote, this allowing Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Tea Party favorite, to win the nomination. Democrats have a slight edge, at least for now. They have a better chance if the Tea Party guy gets the nomination.
New Hampshire: Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte is popular, but New Hampshire has been trending bluer. Governor Maggie Hassan is also popular and mounting a strong challenge, but faces a possible scandal involving donations from a former teacher at a school where Hassan’s husband is the Principal. The teacher was dismissed for sexual misconduct with students. The Republicans are trying to pin “cover up” on Hassan but that probably won’t stick. Right now, Ayotte has a slight edge, but within the margin of error. Hassan has a good shot at taking the seat.
Ohio: Republican incumbent Rob Portman is a strong candidate, but the Democratic challenger, former Governor Ted Strickland is popular and holds a slight lead at present. Ohio has gone for the winning Presidential candidate in every election since 1960 and has split the Senate vote (voting for one party for President and different party for the Senate) only twice in that time. If Hilary wins Ohio (which she probably needs to do to win) then there is a good chance Democrats will pick up the Ohio Senate seat.
Pennsylvania: Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey currently has a 10 point lead over Katie McGinty, who has no experience in elective office and poor name recognition. That could change. Toomey could be in danger if women turn out in big numbers to support a first time woman President and a first time female Senator. Plus, McGinty has strong ties to Clinton, is an environmentalist, and has the support of key Democratic power brokers in PA. Democrats will spend a lot of money on this race, if nothing else to turn out women voters.
Bottom Line: If Hilary beats Trump, Democrats have a good chance of picking up the three or four seats they need to regain control of the Senate.
The Two Martini Scenario
Now here is the two-martini scenario I promised you.
Hilary wins. The Democrats pick up three or four of the Senate seats we just discussed AND
DEMOCRATS SELECT ELIZABETH WARREN AS MAJORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE.
Think about it. CLINTON IN THE WHITE HOUSE, WARREN RUNNING THE SENATE AND KICKING BUTT, HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN.
Damn. I’m buying a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. Hell, forget that, I’m buying two.
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