Analysis of the November election hints that Democratic lawmakers are poised to retake the Senate majority, based on mathematical advantage and the down-ballot impact of Republican nominee Donald Trump in crucial states.
On Aug. 24, The New York Times’ The Upshot gave Democrats a 60 percent likelihood of retaking control of the Senate in its latest election forecast, with a 17 percent chance the Senate will become evenly split.
Even if there were a 50-50 split among Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the Senate, the majority would still be Democrats if a Democratic vice president is elected into the White House. Vice presidents serve as the tie-breaking vote in the case of an evenly split Senate.
The Upshot gave Democratic lawmakers the edge in its election forecast largely based on their mathematical advantage in 2016. In November, only 10 Democrats will have to fight for their seats in the Senate while Republicans will have 24 seats up for the ballot.
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Currently, the Republicans have a Senate majority of 54 to 46 seats. Even if Trump were to win the White House, Democrats would only have to win five new Senate seats to take control over the chamber.
NBC News projects that Senate contests in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin are strongly leaning in the Democrats’ favor. That is three seats.
NBC News also projects that three more seats, in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and North Carolina, will largely be determined by which party nominee wins the presidential election.
Aggregating the last seven national polls released since Aug. 23, Real Clear Politics found that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is currently leading Trump by an average 5 percentage points.
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Nevada could provide GOP lawmakers with a crucial win to maintain their Senate majority because Democratic Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada is retiring.
Currently, the race between former Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Republican Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada to succeed Reid is highly competitive. Losing Reid’s seat to a Republican would mean that Democrats would have no room for error in other races, New York magazine reports.
Senate Democrats will be receiving help from one unlikely source: Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The former Democratic presidential candidate’s former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told Roll Call that Sanders was planning to campaign alongside Democratic lawmakers in competitive swing states and even use his formidable fundraising machine to help fund their Senate bids.
“Bernie Sanders has pledged to campaign aggressively for Democrats up and down the ballot after Labor Day, and I’m very confident he will follow through on his word,” Weaver said.