With less than two months until the midterm elections Democrats find themselves in the surprising position of having a real chance of winning a majority in the U.S. Senate.
Because Senate Democrats have to defend so many seats this year in states won by Trump in 2016, Republicans have long thought they would increase their majority this year, but that doesn’t look likely now.
The most recent opinion polls show that 9 Senate races are considered toss-ups by The Cook Political Report.
If the Democrats win all of those races they will have a 52-48 majority in the new Senate that convenes in January of next year.
And that does NOT include a victory in Texas where Democrat Beto O’Rourke is running a close race with the unpopular incumbent Republican Ted Cruz.
Is a Democratic Senate majority likely? Not really. Is it possible? Definitely.
The election is just eight weeks from today, and that is plenty of time for things to swing either way for the candidates in close races. What is promising for Democrats is that the trend in recent weeks has shown them increasing their support among independent voters who will decide the elections.
One week ago we reported on an ABC News/Washington Post poll that showed Democrats with a 14 percentage point lead in the generic congressional ballot. With an advantage like that a takeover of both houses of Congress is definitely possible. A Blue Wave could turn into a Blue Tsunami.
Things will get worse for the GOP as more revelations from Bob Woodward’s book and from Omarosa’s recordings further taint the Republican brand. And Trump’s continuing legal problems, combined with his bizarre tweets, make the president seem desperate and out of control.
“Republicans remain the favorite, but the fact that we’re even talking about Democrats having a chance of taking over the majority is astounding and speaks to the problems of the Republican Party and Trump,” said Doug Thornell, who previously worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
“I’m optimistic we can keep our losses to a minimum or even win the majority,” said Thornell.
It’s true that some Democratic Senate seats in Trump states are considered long shots, such as North Dakota, Missouri, and perhaps Florida. But Republicans are also playing defense and could lose seats in Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee.
The math for a Senate majority looks like this: If Democrats hold all of their current seats and pick up two GOP seats then they are in the majority. And currently the Democratic candidates are ahead in both Arizona and Tennessee, while Nevada is a tie.
And Republican strategists are reportedly bracing for last-minute surprises between now and election day that might change their chances of keeping their Senate majority.
“Republicans need to prepare themselves for surprise changes and priorities in the last couple of weeks,” one GOP strategist said.
“You’d like to think with a map like the one Republicans were given you’d see across the board campaigns that are being run at the top level. You’re just not.”
A lot can happen in the world of politics over an eight-week period. It’s hard to see much good news happening for Republicans between now and election day. But the chances of them receiving more bad news — especially from the White House — seem very high.
Senate Democrats are actually right where they want to be. It is the fourth quarter of the game and they are in a position to win. That’s all they can ask for at this point, and there is a good chance that new developments over the next eight weeks will carry them to victory.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.