The Senate landscape looks different from the last time there was a Supreme Court battle, just before the midterm period in 2018. Two years ago, Democrats were in defense, and at least three of their Red State officials could not overcome a very biased confirmation that nationalized the races.
This year, however, Democrats are on the offensive and defending only 12 seats for Republicans. 23. Two of the Democratic seats – Alabama and Michigan – book this list of seats most likely to reverse bias, first published in late August. The remaining eight places on the list are Republican. Democrats need a net gain of four seats to gain control of the House, or three if Joe Biden wins the White House since the vice president breaks ties with the Senate. Inside the election with Nathan L. Gonzales, a CNN contributor, six GOP-held seats rank either Toss-up or Tilt Democratic.
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Two of them are blue states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and that's where Republicans fear a biased Supreme Court debate could hurt the most. Democrats are already pressuring Republicans to affirm a new fair share of Colorado advertising – which maintains its No. 2 position – and put that message on top of their long-running health care attacks. The fate of the Affordable Care Act, a winning case for Democrats in the interim period in 2018, has once again been put ahead of the election, with the Supreme Court scheduled to hear arguments over the law the week after election day.
In Maine, another blue state where a Republican is facing a tough re-election, Democrat Sara Gideon explicitly argues that this election is not just about Senator Susan Collins – who has said the Senate should not vote for a candidate before election day . – it is also about majority leader Mitch McConnell, who the narrator in one of her recent spots says, is also on the ballot.
It is possible Maine, which is No. 5 on the list, and North Carolina, which is No. 4, may soon change seats. If Supreme Court vacancies push voters deeper into their biased corners, it could spell good news for North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, but bad news for Collins, who is already alienated moderates and independent with his support for Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and not will probably not be surrounded by conservatives by saying that a Trump nominee should not be confirmed before the election.
One change from the end of August: Montana is now ahead of Georgia with the likelihood of turning control – mainly due to the candidate battle and the uncertainty of runoff in Peach State – but a sustained Supreme Court battle could reverse the shift given that Montana is still a red state, while Georgia looks increasingly purple.
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Kansas is still not on the list, but more than any of the other Democratic "when seats," the Sunflower State may deserve an honorable mention. Republican outsiders continue to have to spend money they should spend elsewhere to increase GOP nominees, who face a former Republican. However, this is one of the red so-called firewall states where the Republicans believe that their candidates will be strengthened by growing partisan feelings around the Supreme Court.
The point: there is plenty of speculation about how the battle for the court will shape the race for the Senate, but it is still too early to know how Ginsburg's death moves specific competitions. Therefore, CNN's ranking of the top 10 senate races is largely unchanged since the end of August, when the political conventions had just ended and America was at the height of the traditional fall campaign season. A lot has happened since then – and no doubt a lot will happen between now and election day.
With only more than five weeks left, here are the seats that are most likely to turn control:
sitting: Democratic Senator Doug Jones
Jones maintains his position as the most threatened senator – a position he is unlikely to relinquish with Supreme Court vacancies that underscore partisan lines in deep red Alabama. But Jones is not running away from his party, and recently joined his other Senate Democrats in saying he would oppose any candidate for the Trump Supreme Court before election day. Nor has he avoided going after Trump, using the president & # 39 ;s alleged words about America & # 39; s fallen soldiers (and Fox News & # 39; confirmation of parts of the account, first reported in the Atlantic) in an ad against Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville. Energizing the democratic base, especially African American voters, continues to be Jones & # 39; s most realistic path to victory. But while he has had an economic advantage over Tuberville, it is difficult to see him overcome the biased bend in the state since he only narrowly defeated Roy Moore, who faced allegations of sexual assault, in a special election in 2017.
sitting: Republican Senator Cory Gardner
A nationalized race is the last thing Gardner wants in a state that voted for Clinton by about 5 points and where Trump is deeply unpopular. The opponent, the former Democratic government John Hickenlooper, launched one of the first ads mentioning the vacancy of the Supreme Court, pointing out Gardner's support for confirmation before the election. The Republican's first term is in a bind: he can not afford to turn down the Conservative base, but he is also trying to hold on to enough ticket-sharing voters. He runs ads that show his bipartisanship, and like many GOP operators this cycle, he has leaned into healthcare. But a recent Gardner site that featured his mother, a cancer survivor, made headlines to misleadingly say that his bill "forever" will ensure protection for existing conditions – even without Obamacare.
Upcoming: Republican Senator Martha McSally
Appointed to this Seat After losing her Senate race in 2018, McSally faces a difficult path to victory in November that demands victory over Trump's base and some of the suburbs who dislike him . Unlike Gardner, however, she is in a state where Trump is competitive, and there is a chance that a tightening presidential race here – as a recent ABC / Washington Post poll showed – could increase her fortune. But the Supreme Court's battle could also underscore her obligations to female suburbs, which she failed to overcome in 2018. Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and husband of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, has no voting rights and had a huge cash benefit from mid-July. , when the latest fundraising reports were available.
4. North Carolina
sitting: Republican Senator Thom Tillis
Trump has held many rallies in North Carolina, which may be good news for first-time Senator Thom Tillis, who has struggled to consolidate the president's base behind him. But when Trump brings news at these rallies, for example by proposing people to try to vote twice (which would be illegal), Tillis risks losing the well-educated and suburban voters who make this state competitive up and down the ballot. Tillis & # 39; allies have tried to beat some of the banks against the president against Democrat Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and army reservist, accusing him of being an "anti-waxxer" because he said he was concerned about political interference in public health . Cunningham, who outraised Tillis in the last quarter, has consistently led to a public vote here, but Republicans feel the race has been tightened since Labor Day and that efforts in the Supreme Court battle could bring GOP voters home to Tillis. There will be much more spending on both sides until the end: North Carolina & # 39 ;s Senate race was the most expensive in the country, with nearly $ 146 million in total advertising spending, including what has already been spent and future reservations, according to a CNN analysis of CMAG data from 21 September
sitting: Republican Senator Susan Collins
Caribou, Maine, originally elected in 1996, has long relied on a moderate image to send Democratic challengers. But the Democrats' central argument against her this year is that she no longer has Senator Mainers elected four times before. Collins' vote for the 2017 GOP tax plan and contributions from the pharmaceutical industry have been particularly prominent parts of Democratic messages, although a recent post from a Democratic outsider group also highlights her support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The 2018 vote was a rallying cry for moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats, especially when it came to fundraising. Another vacant Supreme Court position allows Democratic Secretary of State Sara Gideon to argue that even if voters like Collins, they cannot afford to have a new GOP vote in the Senate. At the same time, Collins' refusal to confirm a Trump candidate before the election is unlikely to win her any sympathy with the GOP base, which she needs to prove herself to her. Another complicating factor for Collins, who failed to beat 50% in several recent public opinion polls, is ranked election, which helped send New England's last Republican member of the US House package in 2018. She is in the swing, but the question is whether Gideon – who is facing attacks on his record in the state legislature – can exploit it.
Seated: Republican Senator Joni Ernst
Iowa's Senate race is the second most expensive, with $ 136.3 million in total advertising spending, according to a CNN analysis of CMAG data from September 21. Republicans see this as a must-hold seat in a Trump state that potentially becomes more secure with the balance between the Supreme Court at stake. Democrats, however, are looking at a competitive presidential state and see an opportunity to pick a GOP senator, which they argue has changed since her infamous "make & # 39; em squeal" ad six years ago. Democratic outsiders use Ernst's recent controversial comments about the coronavirus, in which she expressed skepticism about the death toll, against her, while Democratic businesswoman Theresa Greenfield gets Republicans to agree. Republicans are trying to tie Greenfield to the National Party, with the narrator in a recent National Republican Senate committee saying, "If Theresa Greenfield wins, the mob wins." Recent public polls show no clear leader.
sitting: Republican Senator Steve Daines
Montana moves up somewhere on this list, which means it is more likely than the Georgia seat (see next point) to reverse partisan control in November. Opinion polls here show a very tight race, but Democrat Steve Bullock, a two-year governor who won the state all year the same year Trump carried the state by more than 20 points, has a demonstrated ability to win ticket-sharing voters. And while Republicans claim that a Supreme Court battle is more likely to help them in Montana than in Georgia, there is a recent precedent for a Montana Democrat to oppose a Trump nominee and still win. (See Senator Jon Tester in 2018.) Democrats are also encouraged by the removal of the ballot paper of the Green Party candidate, who could have cast votes away from Bullock. But even though Trump has not been as good here as he was four years ago, this is still a tough race for Democrats. Republicans are trying to link Bullock, who did not succeed in the Democratic nomination for president, to the National Party, with an ad that said, "He has changed, and now he stands with them."
sitting: Republican Senator David Perdue
Georgia falls under Montana in large part due to the uncertainty of a runoff in January. Democrat Jon Ossoff, who lost a costly special election in 2017 in the Atlanta suburbs, is taking on the first Republican senator, David Perdue. Despite the state's traditional Republican bending, demographic changes in the Atlanta suburbs make Peach State much more competitive for Democrats up and down the ticket. Ossoff's best shot is to win directly in November if Biden can carry the state. A poll by CBS published on Sunday showed that Perdue led 47% to 42% among likely voters. If none of the candidates gets a majority and the Senate race goes on to a January runoff, with unpredictable turnout, it could be more difficult for a Democrat to win without presidential contests. Perdue tries to paint Ossoff as "too radical". But in a sign that democratic meetings may have resonated, Perdue had to address attacks on his shares in a recent ad, in which he explained that the government cleared him of wrongdoing.
9. South Carolina
Seated: Late. Lindsey Graham
It was a long time since Democrat Jaime Harrison made headlines about this race because he ran against the late Lindsey Graham, who has been a boogeyman on the left – and is even more so now after reversing his stance to confirm Supreme Court judges in the presidential election. The national attention helped the former state Democratic Party chairman outraise Graham, a Trump skeptic as a close ally. But it no longer seems to be just outside the state that animates this race. Public voting has consistently shown that Harrison is locked in a close race with Graham, and that is why, of all the "reach seats" that Democrats are targeting in red states like Kansas, Kentucky, Texas and Alaska, this list is most likely to turn around. . Harrison is not short of money, but the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee recently made a seven-figure coordinated investment here to send a signal that despite being a reliable red state, the Senate race is real. Republicans acknowledge that it is competitive, but believe that the Supreme Court's efforts – and Graham's role as chairman of the judiciary – will strengthen it as a GOP stronghold.
sitting: Democratic Senator Gary Peters
Peters is the only other Democrat running for re-election this year in a state Trump led (albeit narrowly) in 2016. And even though the state appears to be moving away from Trump at the presidential level, uses outside groups from both sides here for the Senate race. Republicans have always been thrilled by John James, a war veteran in Iraq and black businessman who lost the Michigan Senate in 2018. But they have become more optimistic about his chances against Peters, who have been outraised several quarters in a row. An NBC News / Marist poll released Sunday showed that Peters had a small lead over James, 49% to 44%, among likely voters.