Most political pundits have run with the conventional wisdom that Democrats will likely win control of the House of Representatives in November, and Republicans will maintain control of the Senate.
But a flurry of new state surveys in recent weeks is showing that, as Donald Trump becomes less popular and Democrats expand their lead in generic ballot polling, the blue wave could flip the Senate, too.
As of this writing, RealClearPolitics finds that 44 Senate seats will likely stay with the Democrats and 47 will be kept in the GOP column. That leaves nine toss-ups, some of which look favorable to the Democrats and others that are razor-thin – or even slightly GOP leaning – but could still fall to the blue team in a wave election.
Arizona: The latest polling gives Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema the edge over Trump-supporting Republican opponent Martha McSally. RealClearPolitics shows her leading the race by an average of 5.4 percentage points.
Montana: Like Arizona, the Democratic candidate in Montana – incumbent Sen. Jon Tester – seems to be faring well in a state Trump carried in 2016. According to RealClearPolitics, Tester is beating GOP opponent Matt Rosendale by 5.5 percentage points.
Indiana: In another state that Trump easily won in 2016, the Democrat appears to be holding his own. A new poll from NBC News/Marist shows incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly ahead by six points in Indiana.
Tennessee: Despite being a reliably red state, GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn – an unabashed Trump apologist – is having a tougher-than-expected time against Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen. It’s a close race, but most polls have shown Bredesen ahead. RealClearPolitics has the Democrat leading by nearly two percentage points.
Nevada: It’s another close race in Nevada, a state Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Democratic candidate Jacky Rosen is clinging to a small lead. According to RealClearPolitics, her lead is less than one point.
If the Democratic candidate holds their polling advantage in those five states, that puts the Senate breakdown at 49 Democrats and 47 Republicans, with four states left in play.
Florida: While some polls have shown Florida Gov. Rick Scott leading incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, more recent surveys show Nelson picking up momentum. Despite a small deficit in the RealClearPolitics average, the latest polling from Quinnipiac and Gravis show the race dead even.
Missouri: Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill knows a thing or two about being counted out in red state Missouri, but she is holding her own against GOP challenger Josh Hawley. She is behind by just half of a percentage point in the average of polls, and the latest surveys show the race tied.
North Dakota: Like Sen. McCaskill, Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is in a dead-heat race with GOP opponent Kevin Cramer. RealClearPolitics puts the margin between the two candidates at .5 percentage points – a virtual tie.
Texas: This is the one everybody is paying attention to but will likely be the toughest for Dems to pull off. Still, with each passing week, it seems the race between GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke gets closer. While RealClearPolitics gives Cruz the small edge, the latest survey has the race tied and getting tighter.
If the Democrats were to pick off two of those last four states, they would win control of the United States Senate by a 51 to 49 margin.
The Democrats have a clear shot at winning the Senate
This not a pipedream; it’s a real possibility.
While there is no question that winning control of the Senate will be an uphill battle for Democrats since they are mostly duking it out in GOP territory, there seems to be a growing consensus among the pundit class that it’s out of reach. It’s not.
Not only does polling show that many of these races are within single-digits – sometimes less than a point! – but an enthusiastic base fueling a blue wave could boost Democratic turnout further than polling shows.
In other words, a one-point GOP lead in a Missouri or Florida poll could easily turn into a slight Democratic edge when the real votes are counted, especially if we continue to see the surge of progressive momentum that’s impacted recent special elections.
At the end of the day, Democratic lawmakers and voters shouldn’t just have their sights set on winning the House of Representatives. They should be fighting for the Senate, too. Despite what Republicans are publicly wishing, it is most certainly within reach.
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Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.