Republican hopes to take back the Senate are bleak

United States Capitol

This was supposed to be the year for Republicans to take back the Senate. There were plenty of vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year and an anti-incumbent feeling in the air.

But the races for the Senate haven’t shaped up so well for Republicans. While they only need a net-gain of four seats to take control, they’ve found themselves trying to hold on to what were thought of as “safe seats” thanks to strong Democratic candidates and gaffes by GOP nominees.

As it stands right now, Democrats hold 53 seats in the Senate, including two Independents who caucus with them. Republicans have 47 seats. The list of competitive seats below shows that Democrats will cancel out likely Republicans gains in Nebraska and North Dakota with gains of their own in Maine (Angus King, an Independent, will caucus with Democrats) and Massachusetts. There are still five seats on the board as where polls are too close to give an idea of a which party will win.

Here’s a look at the Senate seats up for grabs (current party in control of a seat is colored, incumbents are in italics):

State Democrat Republican Polls Status
Arizona Richard Carmona Jeff Flake Flake +1.8 Toss-Up
Connecticut Chris Murphy Linda McMahon Murphy +4 Likely Dem
Florida Bill Nelson Connie Mack Nelson +6.7 Likely Dem
Indiana Joe Donnelly Richard Mourdock Donnelly +3 Toss-Up
Maine Angus King* Charlie Summers King +15.3 Dem Pickup
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren Scott Brown Warren +4.5 Dem Pickup
Missouri Claire McCaskill Todd Akin McCaskill +5 Likely Dem
Montana Jon Tester Denny Rehberg Rehberg +0.3 Toss-Up
Nebraska Bob Kerrey Deb Fischer Fischer +11.8 GOP Pickup
Nevada Shelley Berkley Dean Heller Heller +3.5 Likely GOP
North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp Rick Berg Berg +5.7 GOP Pickup
Ohio Sherrod Brown Josh Mandel Brown +5.5 Likely Dem
Pennsylvania Bob Casey Tom Smith Casey +6.2 Likely Dem
Virginia Tim Kaine George Allen Kaine +1 Toss-Up
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin Tommy Thompson Baldwin +0.5 Toss-Up

If Democrats run the table and win the remaining toss-up seats, they will actually build on their majority, holding 55 seats in the Senate come January 3rd. If Republicans were to manage to win all of the remaining toss-up seats, they’d hold 50 seats — and depending on who wins the presidential election, potentially a majority in the upper-chamber of Congress.

Republicans winning all the toss-up seats seems like a stretch. We’ve yet to see the damage that Richard Mourdock’s comments on abortion have done in Indiana, though new public polls show Donnelly now leading in the race. Mourdock has countered with an internal showing him with a slight lead.

Jeff Flake will most likely beat Richard Carmona in Arizona. And Rep. Denny Rehberg has a good shot at beating Sen. Jon Tester, but much like Indiana, the Libertarian Party’s nominee could determine the outcome of the race. Polls show that the races in Virginia and Wisconsin remain close, but Democrats in those have led more than they’ve trailed.

Republicans will likely hold 47 or 48 seats come the beginning of the next Congress, effectively leaving the dynamics of the Senate unchanged.

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