2020 Senate Race Report by Peter Moon

In the 2020 races, the normal 34 races will be up. Each state has one person running for them. This is the following list, followed by their state name: Dan Sullivan (Alaska) (R), Doug Jones (Alabama) (D), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) (R), Martha McSally (Arizona) (R), Cory Gardner (Colorado) (R), Christopher Coons (Delaware) (D), David Perdue (Georgia) (R), Joni Ernst (Iowa) (R), Jim Risch (Idaho) (R), Dick Durban (Illinois) (D), *Pat Roberts from Kansas is retiring/not running again, his seat will be open, Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) (R), Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) (R), Ed Markey (Massachusetts) (D), Susan Collins (Maine) (R), Gary Peters (Michigan) (D), Tina Smith (Minnesota) (D), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Mississippi) (R), Steve Daines (Montana) (R), Thom Tillis (North Carolina) (R), Ben Sasse (Nebraska) (R), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) (D), Cory Booker (New Jersey) (D), Tom Udall (New Mexico) (D), Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma) (R), Jeff Merkley (Oregon) (D), Jack Reed (Rhode Island) (D), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) (R), Mike Rounds (South Dakota) (R), *Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will not be seeking re-election, John Cornyn (Texas) (R), Mark Warner (Virginia) (D), Shelley Capito (West Virginia) (R), and Mike Enzi (Wyoming) (R).

RACE POSSIBILITIES

We’ll go down the list of candidates and their chances, as compiled from Wikipedia’s page on this subject. However, as dates and reports will change, so will the site’s sourcing and numbers. So please realize that these were taken from polls and predictions made on January 4th, 2019. This article itself was written on January 19th- many issues and candidates will likely change after this date.
Doug Jones is running for his re-election in Alabama and is facing a possible tough field. The PVI number shows that his state went for the Right by 14 points. His last election in 2017 resulted in him garnering 50% of the vote flatly, and that was during the fight against the “weak” Roy Moore (Ben Shapiro has called it this in the past, as well as other conservative commentators). Results from the race itself were seen as possibly fraudulent, with weird numbers coming from different racial demographics and turnout rates. Cook Political Report, which came up with the PVI system, called the future race “Lean D” on January 4th. However, Inside Elections ran a poll on the same day, and came up with a “Lean R” result. Sabato’s Crystal Ball came up with a poll on December 18th, 2018 which predicted the race as a “Toss Up”. If Republicans can flip this seat (which is a possibility), then they will increase their holdings in the 2020 Senate.
Next, we go to the frozen state of Alaska. Dan Sullivan, that state’s current senator, won his last race with only 48% (his opponent must have garnered less of the vote for him to still win with those outcomes). The state’s PVI is R+9, and all three dominant reports called the future race as “Safe R”.
The border state of Arizona comes next. Here, we have a special election with Martha McSally, who lost in 2018 to Kristen Synema; she lost the race with getting only 47.6% in the final results. The state’s PVI only leans Right by 6 points, and Cook subsequently called the race “Lean R”. Both IE and CB (“Crystal Ball”) both called the race a “Toss Up”.
Arkansas, the state from which Bill Clinton hailed from, is next up. Tom Cotton was pretty popular last time around, when he won 56.5% of the vote. The state, however, is very Republican, since it had a R+15 PVI number. All three sites reported it as being “Safe R”, and if the last election were to be used as a barometer for 2020, then Cotton will most likely be re-elected by his voter base.
Colorado is on the board next. While the state could be called “liberal”, the man running for re-election for that state’s seat is a Republican. Cory Gardner, a relatively young Senator, barely won his seat the first time around when he won only 48.2% of the vote. The state itself went for Clinton in 2016, and enjoys a Democratic tilt by Cook, having a PVI of D+1. Cook itself called the race “Lean R”, but both IE and CB called the race “Toss Up”. If Gardener does lose his seat in 2020, then that will give the Democrats yet another seat in the Upper Chamber of Congress.
Delaware is next. The state itself is usually a Democratic safe haven, having a PVI of D+6. Coons’ last race ended with him winning 55.8% of the vote. All three polling sites called the race “Safe D”. I would not advise trying to flip this seat; the chances of that happening are low right now.
Georgia is next up. David Perdue won his last race with 52.9% of the vote. The state itself enjoyed a PVI of R+5. However, 2018 showed us that something is slowly changing in the state from which Jimmy Carter emerged 40 years ago. Brian Kemp barely won his seat for the Governorship from Stacey Abrahams. Voter fraud was suspected from both sides of the aisle, but a stop to a statewide recount is suspected and attributed to the reason Kemp prevailed his victory. All three sites have mixed feelings of this race: Cook called it “Likely R”, but both IE and CB called it “Lean R”. No one knows for sure what could happen nearly a year from now.
The Potato state of Idaho is up next. Jim Risch won his election last time with 65.3% of the vote. The state itself enjoyed a healthy R+19 swing, and all three sites called the race “Safe R”. If anything changes however, then the race could shift to the Left.
We move on to the state of Illinois. Dick Durbin won his election with 53.5% of the vote. His state leans to the left by a factor of D+7. This is the same state where Chicago is located; however, outside of the Windy City, the state is more Conservative than the electoral map shows. Like Idaho, all three sites are calling the state “Safe” for the Democratic incumbent; however, also like Idaho, the state could flip to the right if Durbin gets caught up in deep controversies like Joe Donnely of Indiana in 2018.
Iowa is next up. The state only enjoys a lean to the Right, with R+3 in the PVI column. Joni Ernst only won her seat by 52.1% of the vote last time, and all three sites are divided on the future race; Cook called it “Safe R”, while IE called it “Likely R”, and CB called it “Lean R”. No one knows which way the state will flip in 2020. However, there is a good chance that Ernst will be safe in her place approaching 2020.
Kansas is next up. In 2018, the state elected a Democrat in place of a Republican governor. However, the state enjoys a R+13 PVI number, and the retiring incumbent won his seat by 53.1% in his last race. While Cook called the future race “Likely R”, both IE and CB called the race “Safe R”. However, there is a problem here: Since Roberts is retiring, that means that he will not be running in 2020. This then turns into the fact that no one is sure who will take his place as the Right’s representative in 2020. So, predicting this race means you need to wait, and the race itself could flip either way depending on who takes Robert’s place in November on the Conservative ticket.
The Bluegrass state of Kentucky is next up. The state is safely in the Republican’s grasp, with it having a PVI of R+15. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Majority Leader, has been pretty public in his role. Likewise, he has been working well the President, and thus has been gaining popularity in the party where he did not enjoy it before. In his last race, McConnell won the seat by 56.2% of the vote. Cook and CB called the race “Likely R”, but IE called it “Safe R”. It would be a tough race for the Democrats to succeed in a state where the Right has a strong foothold.
The Bayou state of Louisiana is up for debate next. Bill Cassidy is the incumbent who will be fighting for his seat in 2020. He previously won his state with 55.9% of the vote. The state itself enjoys a R+11 Republican PVI lean. In accordance to this, all three sites have called the race “Safe R”. Likewise, there has been nothing to suggest a change in the numbers is imminent.
Maine is up next. Susan Collins, who was a crucial ‘Yes’ vote in Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, previously won her state’s seat with 68.5% of the vote. However, her state enjoys a D+3 PVI tilt. But that’s counting the 2016 election, in which Trump capture 1 of 4 of Maine’s electoral vote. IE called the state as “Tilt R”, while both Cook and CB have called it “Lean R”. If Collins is beat out by a Democrat or an Independent, then her loss will detract from the Republican’s 52-54 lead in the Senate.
Massachusetts is up next. The state has been a liberal safehouse since 2000, and leans Left with a PVI rating of D+12. Ed Markey, the state’s incumbent Senator, won his seat last time with 61.9% of the vote. Trying to flip this seat to the Right would be futile, as the state itself is very liberal. All three sites listed the race as being “Safe D”, and nothing yet has been shown to possibly change those predictions.

Michigan is on deck next. In 2018, the state’s Democratic incumbent maintained her seat from John James, and the Governorship switched to the Left with the success of Gretchen Whitmer’s campaign. The state itself flipped to the Right in 2016, but reportedly has a D+1 tilt in the PVI section. Gary Peters himself won 54.6% of the vote, and all three of the polling sites concluded varying result: Cook stated the race as being “Safe D”, while IE concluded it as being “Likely D”, and CB coming out with it being “Lean D”. Peters himself seems to be safe; he has not been in the center of any huge controversies, and he has not been part of any former Progressive campaign platforms. I personally think Peters will win partially from name recognition alone, as he has not been in the media very much since he started his career in government. The race itself is probably going to be a Democratic win, but no one knows for sure what could happen in the coming months.
Minnesota is next on our list. The state has been seen to be going further Right since 2016; however, Tina Smith won her election in 2018 with 53% of the vote. Smith has been reported by Cook as being a shaky seat. Her state only enjoys a PVI rating of D+1, which could shift either right or left in the coming months. However, all three prediction sites have called it as being a “Likely D” outcome, which could shift any time from now. If Smith is unseated, her loss could balance out other Republican losses, which could help the Right as they start the next congressional session.
Mississippi is up next. While the state enjoyed a PVI of R+9, the state’s last race in 2018 showed that the Left was willing to throw everything at the wall in order to flip the seat blue with Mike Epsi. Epsi lost, however, to Cindy Hyde-Smith; Smith won the race with 53.6% of the vote. Her race will be one to watch, since Epsi could come back to challenge her again. However, Cook predicted the future race as being “Likely R”. IE and CB both concluded their predictions as being “Safe R”. There is a chance that Hyde-Smith is defeated, but this chance isn’t high. No one knows what could happen in the next months, but it’s a good chance she will win.
Montana is next. In 2018, the close Senate race went Blue by a slim margin. However, Steve Daines enjoys an incumbent advantage over any Democratic challenger. This is because he won his last race with 57.9% of the vote. For one thing, Montana enjoys a Republican lean of R+11, and both IE and Cook predicted the race as being “Safe R”. However, CB only called the race “Likely R”. I believe Daines will be safe in his upcoming race and will be re-elected to his seat by at least 49% of the vote.
The cold state of Nebraska is up next. The state itself is a safe Republican state, having a PVI of R+14. Ben Sasse enjoyed a lead of 64.5% over opponent. To reflect this result, all three sites have called the race “Safe R”, and the state itself doesn’t look like it is going to flip any time soon.
The liberal leaning state of New Hampshire is up next. The PVI of this state is called as being “EVEN”, which is rare for the Senate races. Jeanne Shaheen only won her last race by 51.5% of the state’s vote. However, despite these numbers, Cook concluded the race as being “Safe D”. I personally don’t know why this is, but IE was less sure of the race in calling it “Likely D”. CB was even less sure of the race, calling it “Lean D”. In the Presidential election, the state itself has been called as going “Lean D”. No one knows if Shaheen will be safe or not in 2020, but the numbers aren’t reflecting a solid footing for the future candidate.
The liberal state of New Jersey is next. Cory Booker is a suspected 2020 candidate for the presidency; if Booker does not lock in his decision to return to the Senate in 2020, then his seat will be up for a new candidate. If we do not see a Booker candidacy for the Presidency, then we can suspect he will win denomination. This is because his state leans to the Left, having a D+7 lean. In his last run, Booker captured 55.8% of the vote; to reflect this, all three sites have predicted the race as being “Safe D” across the board. New Jersey is like Delaware; it will be a fight the Left will probably be successful in winning.
New Mexico is next up. The Liberal-leaning state had a PVI of D+3, but has had Republican Senators and Governors in the past. Tom Udall is unlikely to run for the Democratic nomination, but he has not eliminated the option of it. He was elected to his seat with 55.6% of the vote, and his next race has been called as being “Safe D” across the board. However, Republicans could have a chance at flipping the state red with its senate seat. However, a fight like that would need to be waged by a liberal Republican or Libertarian-Republican like Gary Johnson or Bill Weld. A conservative would not have a great chance in this state and would be better used elsewhere in the Southwest.
Next is the Republican leaning state of North Carolina. In the last election, NC went to the Right, and currently enjoys a Republican PVI tilt of R+3. It’s incumbent, Thom Tillis, won his state’s seat by a thin margin of 48.8% of the vote. The three polling sites are mixed on this race, with Cook who called it “Likely R”. They were the most optimistic of the three, while IE classified it as being “Tilt R”, and CB calling it “Lean R”. It seems Tillis could be in trouble in the coming months, but he should be safe in November of 2020.
Next, we have Oklahoma. Oklahoma has been a Republican stronghold in the past; it enjoys an R+20 PVI rating and went for Trump by more than 15 points in 2016. Jim Inhofe, that state’s Senator, was elected to his seat with 68% of the vote. Likewise, all three sites were not on different footing for this one: they all called the race “Safe R”. If Inhofe stays out of trouble for the net year and a half, the n he should be pretty safe when his race comes to light in 2020.
Next is the state of Oregon. The state itself isn’t so Liberal as many would think; it’s PVI score is only D+5. However, Jeff Merkley was elected to his seat with 55.7% of the vote. The state itself isn’t expected to continue going Right any time soon, and the race has been classified as being “Safe D” all around the Web.
The Smallest State in the Union, Rhode Island, is up next. Jack Reed won his seat last time around with 70.6% of the vote. This in turn reflects the PVI rating the state enjoys, which is D+10. Reed is so popular that it seems opposing him would be an abysmal failure. His race has been called “Safe D” by all three sites, and doesn’t look like it will shift radically in the coming months. However, Jack Reed could run for President; if this happens, his seat’s race could go in any direction after he leaves.
Next up we have South Carolina. SC has been represented by Lindsey Graham. In his last election, Graham garnered 55.3% of the vote. Since October of 2018, Graham has been rebranded as “Graham 2.0” to reflect his change in attitude towards America’s political system. Before Kavanaugh, Graham was usually more held back and PC in his remarks and attitude. However, since the nomination and confirmation, Graham has been known to lash out against the Left and other Republicans, and his shift in attitude has been widely approved of by the Right. This change has not been accounted for in his race’s predictions; however, the three sites called his race “Safe R” for his re-nomination. The state itself has a PVI rating of R+8, and nothing has been shown to maybe change that number.
South Dakota is up next. Mike Rounds won his seat last time with only 50.4% of the vote, and his race has been classified as being “Safe R” across the board. However, Rounds’ race should not be considered “safe”. If 50% is a reason to call someone “safe”, then Trump’s re-election chances should be considered “most likely”. South Dakota itself has an R+14 lean to the Right. Again, however, this does not consider the fact that Rounds won his seat with only 50.4% of the vote. Rounds’ fight ay not be in a dangerous position, but his seat may be shaky if he does not attempt to raise his popularity in his state by 2020.
Next is the Volunteer State of Tennessee. Lamar Alexander, the state’s current Senator, is not seeking re-election, and will be retiring in 2020. Thus, his vote percentage should not be used as a platform for prediction. Likewise, the race’s calls need to be considered as “loose” and “unknowable” for now. The state’s PVI, though, is R+14, and that is something that can be used to predict the race. I will personally predict the state will remain red, since it did not flip in 2018, where Democrats performed well across the board.
Next up is the Big State of Texas. Ted Cruz barely won his seat in 2018. However, this should not be used as a springboard for predicting Cornyn’s re-election bid chances. Cornyn himself was elected with 61.6% of the state’s vote. Likewise, his state has an R+8 PVI score, and his popularity hasn’t seemed to go down. Both Cook and IE had predicted that the race will be “Safe R”, but CB only predicted that it will be a “Likely R” outcome. Cornyn will face a challenger from the Left, and he will need to fight hard, as we have seen that the Left wants to flip Texas really, really bad. But, again, his race is not expected to be tough, but no one knows what will be happening for sure.
The state of Virginia is up next. Mark Warner was elected last with only 49.1% of the vote. His state has a PVI of D+1, and it went for Hillary in 2016 by a margin that was safe, and his race has been predicted by both Cook and IE as being “Safe D”. However, like the Cornyn race, Warner’s race has also been called by CB as being “Likely D”. Warner has a good chance of being unseated if his challenger can find dirt on him, or contrast him in a way voters approve of. If he is unseated, then that will flip the state’s seat in the next congressional session.
West Virginia, the state directly next to Virginia, is up next. In 2018, the “Blue Dog Democrat” Joe Manchin won his seat again in this red state. His colleague Shelley Moore Capito, won her seat with 62.1% of her state’s vote. West Virginia itself enjoys an R+19 PVI score, and went for Trump in 2016. Her race doesn’t seem to be in any danger of going Blue, and all three sites concluded it as being “Safe R”.
Last, we have Wyoming. Wyoming has a PVI of R+25, and went for Trump in 2016. The state’s seat is held by Mike Enzi, who won his seat by 72.2% of the vote. His seat is unlikely to change to “Likely R”, since all three sites have concluded his race as being “Safe R”.

CONCLUSION

If the Democrats want to flip the Senate to their side in 2020, they’ll have a hard time doing so. Out of the 34 seats up for grabs, 13 have been concluded as totally being “Safe” for the Right. This isn’t including Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Maine Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, or Montana, which have all been called as being either “Lean” or “Likely” Republican wins. However, looking back on our previous section, Kentucky and Texas should be considered “Safe”. If we remove these two, then that leaves only 7 seats that should be worrisome for the right. We then need to remove those states that are possible Republican holds: Maine, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, and Montana. Removing these off the list leaves 2 seats that are dangerously close to flipping: Arizona and Colorado. If Democrats flip either of these seats, they gain 48 seats to the Republicans’ 52. However, we then need to turn to the Left’s issue-states. The following states are “Safe Blue”: Oregon, New Mexico, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Illinois. If they gain all of these, they’ll keep 43 seats in the Senate. However, as I discussed earlier, New Mexico should be considered more as a “Lean D” state. If we remove that, then the number goes down to 42 seats. Then there are the two “Likely D” states, Minnesota and Virginia. Both states need to be put into the “Lean” category, as I discussed above. But then we need to look at Michigan and New Hampshire. Michigan is safer than Hampshire, and needs to be traded in with Minnesota. If Republicans can flip both Virginia and New Hampshire, then they will increase their current majority to 53 or 54. Lastly, we need to look at the dangerous seat for the Democrats, Doug Jones of Alabama. If 2017’s race tells us anything, then Jones is in trouble for 2020. Jones’ only reason for winning was attributed to a weak opponent. If he has a populist like Rand Paul running against him, he can kiss his seat in the Senate goodbye.

If Republicans really focus on these states, we could increase our hold in the Senate, even if we lose.

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