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CNN Key Races: Democrats' tough Senate map

Democrats face a narrow path to win the US Senate majority in 2018.But there is still a path, according to CNN...

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 2:03 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 2:03 PM

Democrats face a narrow path to win the US Senate majority in 2018.

But there is still a path, according to CNN's new Key Race Ratings for the midterm elections.

Related: CNN's Key Races - House

It starts with defending all the seats the party currently holds, which include 10 incumbents running for re-election in states that Donald Trump carried in 2016. Five of those he won by double digits.

The current balance of power in the Senate is 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats, thanks to Democrat Doug Jones' stunning special election victory in Alabama last month.

It seems so close for Democrats -- if they can protect their seats, then they need to gain just two to win the majority. But the map this year is tilted heavily in Republicans' favor.

Democrats' hopes reside in the Southwest, with prime pickup opportunities in Nevada and Arizona. But they have no room for error and will need some luck if they want to take control of the Senate.

Here are some places and themes to keep an eye on between now and November:

The Southwest: Arizona, Nevada

It's hard to see the Democrats claiming the majority in the Senate without winning both of these Sun Belt seats.

Jeff Flake's retirement creates an open seat in Arizona, with Democrats landing a top recruit in Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and a tough primary fight on the Republican side between Rep. Martha McSally, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In Nevada, incumbent Republican Dean Heller is facing a primary challenge from perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian. If Heller survives, he'll then have a difficult general election contest against Rep. Jacky Rosen in a state Hillary Clinton won by a little more than 2 points.

Both of these contests are rated toss-ups in our initial rankings.

Deep red Democrats: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia

Every football fan is familiar with the adage "defense wins championships." For 2018, the same could be true for Democrats' hopes of winning the Senate majority.

The five states Trump won by double digits -- Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia -- should be prime pickup opportunities for Republicans. But the GOP has struggled to recruit in some of these states, leaving Democrats feeling better about their prospects of retaining these seats.

That is particularly true in Montana, where Jon Tester is seeking a third term, and North Dakota, where Heidi Heitkamp is running for a second term.

One state where Republicans landed a top-tier candidate -- Missouri -- with state Attorney General Josh Hawley looking to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill. Republicans have a pair of combative primaries on their hands in Indiana and West Virginia, which will determine who gets to take on a pair of Joes -- Sens. Donnelly and Manchin.

Those three states are rated toss-ups in our inaugural rankings, while Montana and North Dakota both lean Democratic at this stage.

Obama-Trump country: Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

The GOP's recruitment struggles are evident in five other states Trump won in 2016 but that had gone for President Barack Obama in 2012: Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Florida is the biggest wild card on the map, with Republicans waiting for the state's independently wealthy governor, Rick Scott, to announce whether he will jump into the race against Democrat Bill Nelson -- a move that has the potential to shake up the Senate landscape.

Republicans in Ohio had to scramble a bit after state Treasurer Josh Mandel unexpectedly left the race to take on Sen. Sherrod Brown. Rep. Jim Renacci abandoned his gubernatorial bid to run for Senate.

It's unclear who will emerge from contested GOP primaries in Michigan and Wisconsin, a pair of Rust Belt states Trump narrowly won. Democratic incumbent Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Debbie Stabenow hold healthy cash-on-hand totals in those states. The same goes for Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, who has more than $8 million in the bank at last check, compared with about $1 million for GOP Rep. Lou Barletta.

For now, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin are rated Lean Democratic, while Michigan and Pennsylvania are in the Likely Democratic column.

Methodology

CNN's 2018 House and Senate Race Ratings are based on a number of factors and data points. These include candidate recruitment, fundraising strength, districts' voting history, voter registration data by party and recent voting trends, as well as CNN's political reporting and analysis.

Glossary of key terms

Toss-up: The most competitive seats, where each party is heavily investing and each party has a roughly equal chance of winning.

Lean: Seats where one party has a slight advantage, but are solidly within the universe of competitive races.

Likely: Seats where one party has a clear advantage, but that could become competitive. During a true wave election, these are the seats to watch.

Wave election: Any election where one party makes significant gains in one or both chambers of Congress. The most recent wave election occurred in 2010, when Republicans picked up an astonishing 63 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate.

Pickup: A seat is picked up when it changes from one party to the other. In 2018, Democrats need 24 net pickups to win party control of the House, and two net pickups to win back the Senate.

Open seat: Any House or Senate seat that does not have an incumbent running for re-election. Seats open up due to members retiring, resigning, running for another office, or dying.

Retiring: A member is retiring when he announces he will step down at the end of a term. Many members do this if they think they will lose re-election, or if they are term-limited out of committee chairmanships. Prominent members who are retiring at the end of the current Congress include California Republican Reps. Darrell Issa in the 49th District and Ed Royce in the 39th District and Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen in Nevada's 4th District.

Resigning: A member resigns when he steps down before the end of his current term. Recent examples of this include Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61331

Reported Deaths: 3006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11122439
Cuyahoga8518383
Hamilton6396206
Lucas2859304
Marion273739
Montgomery228335
Summit2269209
Pickaway220641
Mahoning1885239
Butler172147
Columbiana132460
Stark1171114
Lorain107368
Trumbull101474
Warren91825
Clark78410
Delaware64515
Fairfield61417
Tuscarawas59010
Belmont55822
Lake55122
Medina54832
Licking53612
Miami48631
Portage47759
Wood46151
Ashtabula43844
Clermont4367
Geauga41543
Wayne36752
Richland3595
Allen33841
Greene3009
Mercer29410
Erie26022
Darke25326
Holmes2524
Huron2342
Madison2069
Ottawa16124
Sandusky14215
Washington14220
Crawford1375
Ross1363
Putnam13315
Coshocton1323
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson952
Muskingum921
Union921
Athens911
Monroe8917
Hancock841
Preble811
Hocking798
Lawrence790
Guernsey763
Shelby724
Williams722
Clinton700
Logan661
Fulton650
Ashland621
Wyandot615
Carroll603
Brown591
Scioto560
Defiance543
Knox531
Fayette510
Highland471
Champaign461
Van Wert430
Perry401
Seneca362
Henry320
Jackson270
Paulding270
Pike270
Adams241
Vinton222
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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