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: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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