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: 114236

Reported Deaths: 3548
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21067764
Lake10397321
Elkhart6477109
St. Joseph6312105
Allen6113201
Hamilton4803109
Vanderburgh353630
Hendricks2694123
Monroe253136
Tippecanoe234713
Johnson2291123
Clark218756
Porter210546
Cass19399
Delaware191861
Vigo180324
Madison161975
LaPorte140540
Floyd135161
Howard129263
Warrick123436
Kosciusko121117
Bartholomew115557
Marshall99724
Dubois96418
Boone96046
Hancock91743
Grant90334
Noble90032
Henry79326
Wayne75114
Jackson7469
Morgan70938
Shelby66829
Daviess65828
Dearborn64728
LaGrange63411
Clinton59514
Harrison56624
Putnam54211
Knox5139
Lawrence51028
Montgomery50721
Gibson4964
White48314
DeKalb46811
Decatur45839
Miami4313
Greene42235
Fayette41913
Jasper3902
Steuben3787
Scott36711
Sullivan33312
Posey3160
Jennings31212
Franklin30325
Clay2995
Orange28824
Ripley2878
Carroll27313
Wabash2638
Washington2631
Whitley2617
Starke2597
Adams2553
Wells2513
Jefferson2473
Fulton2352
Spencer2283
Huntington2253
Tipton22122
Perry21613
Randolph2117
Jay1760
Newton17211
Owen1681
Martin1640
Rush1544
Pike1431
Vermillion1270
Fountain1202
Pulaski1161
Blackford1143
Brown1043
Crawford1040
Parke972
Benton880
Ohio787
Union780
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 147744

Reported Deaths: 4715
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26545606
Cuyahoga17327656
Hamilton12953315
Montgomery7667157
Lucas7230364
Butler5838110
Summit5237252
Marion308347
Mahoning3030281
Warren300249
Stark2817170
Pickaway264444
Lorain229586
Delaware221620
Fairfield206752
Columbiana192480
Licking189863
Trumbull1876132
Wood180472
Clark177740
Clermont167923
Lake160850
Medina145139
Greene142032
Allen140869
Miami140751
Portage111666
Mercer110118
Erie93246
Tuscarawas92820
Wayne91967
Ross86823
Richland83919
Madison80212
Darke78442
Belmont71827
Geauga71348
Hancock68610
Ashtabula65548
Athens6532
Lawrence64122
Shelby61010
Auglaize5859
Putnam57923
Sandusky55820
Huron5427
Union5152
Scioto4896
Ottawa46930
Seneca46414
Preble43015
Muskingum3922
Holmes3857
Jefferson3354
Logan3083
Henry30613
Champaign3023
Perry2939
Defiance28811
Clinton28613
Brown2842
Knox28215
Washington25823
Morrow2572
Hardin25213
Jackson2466
Fulton2411
Ashland2364
Coshocton23311
Crawford2316
Fayette2286
Highland2223
Wyandot20812
Williams2063
Gallia18913
Pike1790
Meigs17410
Guernsey1678
Hocking1619
Carroll1527
Adams1264
Van Wert1163
Monroe11018
Paulding1070
Harrison632
Morgan470
Vinton473
Noble280
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
55° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 55°
Huntington
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 58°
Decatur
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 55°
Warm, Summer-Like Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events