Just the Facts

Five Facts on Which Party Will Win the Senate

By No Labels
October 17, 2018 | Blog

Midterms are 20 days away and all eyes are on which party will control Congress.  Here is what the experts are saying about which party is expected to take control of the Senate:

The Republican Party has held the majority in the Senate since 2015

Congress has convened 10 times since 2000. Over this period Republicans have held the majority in the Senate six times, while Democrats have been in the majority only four times.  All four periods of Democratic control came between 2007 and 2015, with Democrats controlling as many as 57 seats between 2009 and 2011.  However, Republicans were able to regain control of the Senate in 2015 and have held it ever since. Currently, Republicans have a 51-49 (including 2 Independents that caucus with Democrats) majority in the Senate.

Of the 35 Senate seats on the ballot this cycle, 26 are held by senators who caucus with the Democrats

These numbers are obviously very favorable for Republican chances of holding, and even expanding, their majority in the Senate. To make matters worse for Democrats, only one of the nine Republican held seats that is up for election—Sen. Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada—is in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.  In contrast, 10 Democratic incumbents are running for re-election in states won by President Trump.

FiveThirtyEight, a statistical analysis website, gives Republicans an 81.4% chance of maintaining their majority in the Senate

With a 17% chance, the model predicts that the most likely outcome in the Senate is maintenance of the status quo — Republicans holding 51 seats and Democrats occupying 49. If this is the case, it is likely that by election day more than $1 billion dollars will have been spent by the two parties without any transfer of power.  However, there is also a very good chance that things do shift marginally to the left or the right.  The second most likely outcome, with a 16.5% probability is that Republicans gain one seat, while the third most likely with a 14.9% chance is that Democrats gain a seat.  However, Democrats chances of gaining two seats and retaking the majority is very slim, as the model gives them only an 18.6% chance of retaking control in the Senate.

As of September 26, the Cook Political Reporta nonpartisan election analysis outlet, estimates that nine Senate seats are toss-ups

Cook uses four different qualifiers to rate races: solid, likely, lean, or toss-up.  If a seat is solid Republican or Democrat, Cook judges that it is highly likely that it will be won by that party.  Conversely, if a seat is a toss-up, either party has a good chance of winning.  Currently, the nine toss-up elections are split evenly between the two parties, with Democrats and Republicans each defending four seats.  For Democrats, their most endangered incumbents are from Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota.  Of these four races, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) appears to be in the most trouble, with RealClearPolitics giving her opponent, Kevin Cramer, an average advantage of 8.7% in the polls. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans’ most endangered incumbent is Heller from Nevada who holds a slim 1.7% lead over Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an election handicapping website run by Larry Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia, rates only five Senate races as toss-ups

This is good news for Republicans, as Sabato rates the Tennessee, Texas and North Dakota races as lean Republican.  The one bright spot for Democrats in this projection is that Montana is rated as lean Democrat.

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