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.

Cases: 324537

Reported Deaths: 5594
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion44186858
Lake28094462
Allen18660301
Elkhart17663230
St. Joseph17256234
Hamilton13612170
Vanderburgh10028121
Tippecanoe896729
Porter855386
Johnson6718169
Hendricks6412158
Vigo625889
Monroe550450
Clark531078
Madison5239122
Delaware5075103
LaPorte481196
Kosciusko475941
Howard364177
Bartholomew335365
Warrick335372
Floyd329478
Wayne325678
Marshall311846
Cass303931
Grant287150
Hancock272957
Noble264946
Henry256437
Boone255054
Dubois245631
Dearborn228231
Jackson226334
Morgan221243
Gibson194926
Knox193021
Shelby192656
Clinton185421
DeKalb183932
Lawrence183849
Wabash172821
Adams172422
Miami170815
Daviess163145
Fayette153734
Steuben153414
Jasper151713
Montgomery149327
Harrison147624
LaGrange146131
Ripley145815
Whitley142314
Huntington133510
Decatur132543
Putnam131128
White131022
Wells130130
Clay130023
Randolph128121
Posey125816
Jefferson124116
Scott114520
Greene106053
Sullivan102716
Jay101913
Starke95022
Jennings90414
Spencer8908
Fulton87519
Perry85121
Fountain8228
Washington8127
Franklin73427
Carroll71913
Orange70028
Vermillion6607
Owen6468
Tipton60327
Parke6026
Newton57812
Rush5708
Blackford56612
Pike52719
Pulaski41815
Martin3705
Benton3643
Brown3574
Crawford3081
Union2782
Switzerland2655
Warren2562
Ohio2387
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 399808

Reported Deaths: 6346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin52652672
Cuyahoga39132746
Hamilton31491372
Montgomery21355242
Butler15768149
Lucas15301420
Summit14667330
Stark9780209
Warren878777
Mahoning7985301
Lake752566
Lorain7149106
Clermont622953
Delaware597337
Licking589977
Trumbull5867148
Fairfield576464
Greene559568
Clark5438129
Allen518389
Medina496557
Marion489359
Wood4861108
Miami456268
Pickaway410548
Portage385574
Columbiana376599
Tuscarawas360567
Richland349639
Wayne340894
Mercer299248
Muskingum262510
Hancock257240
Ross251259
Darke246160
Auglaize243935
Erie240868
Ashtabula240454
Putnam234549
Geauga227051
Union20838
Scioto204316
Lawrence201139
Shelby199917
Athens19984
Seneca192919
Belmont176729
Madison172019
Sandusky166429
Huron163022
Preble162521
Defiance149923
Holmes146939
Knox139719
Logan139018
Jefferson138113
Fulton135826
Crawford134417
Washington133427
Ottawa128830
Ashland117328
Williams11479
Clinton113115
Highland108118
Brown10755
Hardin107019
Henry105423
Champaign10535
Jackson102012
Van Wert99918
Fayette97317
Guernsey96814
Morrow9682
Coshocton91015
Perry86613
Adams83813
Gallia81615
Pike7921
Wyandot76118
Paulding70012
Hocking68516
Noble65124
Carroll53210
Meigs41712
Monroe34921
Morgan2925
Harrison2433
Vinton2326
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