BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies cyclist killed after being hit by car on Lima Road Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies downtown Washington Boulevard crash victim Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies Hawthorn Suites shooting victim Full Story

CNN Key Race Alert: This is the narrow path to a Democratic Senate

There are two months until the midterm elections in November and Democrats still have a narrow path to the S...

Posted: Sep 11, 2018 1:06 PM
Updated: Sep 11, 2018 1:06 PM

There are two months until the midterm elections in November and Democrats still have a narrow path to the Senate majority despite a map that favors Republicans and includes 10 Democratic incumbents running in states President Donald Trump won, five of them by double-digit margins.

The President carried Indiana and Missouri by 19 points each, but a pair of new polls released this week by NBC News/Marist show Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill waging competitive re-election fights. In a two-way contest, Donnelly leads Republican Mike Braun 49% to 43% in the Hoosier State, while McCaskill and Josh Hawley are locked in a dead heat -- each with 47% -- in the Show Me State.

2016 Presidential election

Beto O'Rourke

Bob Menendez

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Heidi Heitkamp

Hillary Clinton

Kevin Cramer

Marketing and advertising

Marketing and advertising channels

Marsha Blackburn

Midwestern United States

North America

North Dakota

Phil Bredesen

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

Primaries and caucuses

Ted Cruz

Television advertising

The Americas

United States

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US Federal elections

US federal government

US political parties

US Presidential elections

US Republican Party

US Senate

US Senate elections

White House

Another prime target for Republicans is Florida, where Quinnipiac University found Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott running even with 49% each after some $37 million in television ads -- roughly half of that by Scott's campaign.

The Blue Wall of Great Lakes states that Trump toppled in November 2016 so far looks to be holding for Democrats in 2018. Sens. Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) and Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) are all favorites for re-election. Of that group, Baldwin appears to have the toughest race, facing a challenge from conservative state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

To be sure, the deep red states where Democratic incumbents are hoping to hang on may play to type and keep the majority out of reach for the party. But if a blue wave crests higher than expected, it could lift Democrats in states that would be all but lost in a more neutral environment.

Democrats are on offense in Nevada, a state Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points and where Rep. Jacky Rosen is now challenging GOP Sen. Dean Heller. The Battle Born State could be ground zero for the health care debate this cycle, with Rosen aggressively attacking Heller's support for the GOP's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans breathed a sigh of relief late last month when GOP Rep. Martha McSally emerged from a tough primary contest in Arizona with a convincing victory against conservative firebrands Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio. But McSally's shift to the right during the nominating fight, particularly on immigration, could pose a challenge in the general against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who entered the general election largely unscathed.

The list of Democratic targets this cycle has doubled, with a pair of red states -- Tennessee and Texas -- looking increasingly competitive. With the Senate currently split 51-49 in favor of Republicans, if Democrats were able to win either of those contests -- assuming they also flip Arizona and Nevada -- it would mean the party could afford to see one of its incumbents defeated and still preserve a path to the majority.

Tennessee Senate: Race moves from Lean Republican to Toss-Up

In Tennessee, former two-term Gov. Phil Bredesen is running a methodical campaign against GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn by focusing on local issues and emphasizing his own moderate brand of politics over that of the national Democratic Party. That strategy seems to be working to his point, with an NBC News/Marist poll released Thursday showing Bredesen and Blackburn running neck and neck -- 48% to 46% -- among likely voters.

Bredesen's standing is buoyed by his popularity -- 61% of likely voters have a favorable view of the Democrat versus 22% who hold a negative view of him. By comparison, 46% of likely voters view Blackburn favorably compared with 36% who do not.

When it comes to the President, 47% approve of his job performance while 43% disapprove. Blackburn, a staunch ally of the President, is making the argument that electing Bredesen could give Democrats control of the Senate -- a persuasive message in a state that went for Trump by 26 points. Bredesen has pledged to work with the President when he proposes policies that benefit Tennessee, declaring at the start of his campaign he was not "running against" Trump.

Texas Senate: Race moves from Likely Republican to Lean Republican

Republicans are sending the cavalry to Texas for Sen. Ted Cruz, with the President announcing he'll do an October rally for his former 2016 GOP primary rival, and the political arm of the Club for Growth launching a seven-figure television ad campaign to hammer Cruz's Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke has been a fundraising phenom, more than doubling Cruz in the second quarter and leading the GOP incumbent in cash on hand by almost $5 million. Polls show O'Rourke within striking distance of Cruz. The latest NBC News/Marist survey showed the race at 49% to 45% in Cruz's favor.

For Democrats, the path to victory in the Lone Star State has been elusive. The party's last statewide win came in 1994. The last time Texas elected a Democrat to the Senate was 1988. Clinton lost the state by nine points -- an improvement on Mitt Romney's 16-point margin over Barack Obama in 2012. Having tapped into the Democrats' enthusiasm edge, O'Rourke appears poised to narrow the gap even more this year.

West Virginia Senate: Race moves from Toss-Up to Lean Democratic

West Virginia should be at or near the top of the GOP's targets this cycle based on Trump's 42-point margin there in 2016. The President has also visited the Mountaineer State six times since taking office.

The difficulty for Republicans is they are running against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a popular two-term governor who has demonstrated a willingness to buck his party and support the President's policies and nominees. He voted for Trump's first Supreme Court selection, Neil Gorsuch, and has signaled he's open to supporting Brett Kavanaugh, saying Wednesday he has not seen anything disqualifying from the nominee during this week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Manchin also has demonstrated he can win in a less-than-ideal environment, receiving 61% of the vote in 2012 even as Romney carried the state with 62% support.

Republican nominee Patrick Morrisey, the state's attorney general, has faced questions about his fundraising ability and Manchin has a six-to-one cash advantage. Morrisey only recently launched his first television ad, a biographical spot that features praise from the President and highlights his legal challenge to environmental regulations implemented by the Obama administration.

That comes after Democratic outside groups have spent the summer pummeling Morrisey on TV over his work as a "DC lobbyist" for pharmaceutical companies and his decision to join a lawsuit challenging the ACA, a move that could lead to protections for pre-existing conditions being struck down. That line of attack could resonate in West Virginia, which at 36% has the highest rate of adults under 65 with pre-existing conditions, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2016.

North Dakota Senate: Race moves from Toss-Up to Lean Republican

One state where Republicans are increasingly bullish about their chances is North Dakota, where GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer is challenging Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in a state the President carried by 36 points. Trump was personally involved in the effort to recruit Cramer into the race and stumped for the three-term GOP lawmaker Friday night in Fargo.

For a while it appeared Heitkamp was Trump's favorite Senate Democrat. The President praised her as a "good woman" during a September 2017 event in the Peace Garden State and invited her to the White House in May for the signing of a bank deregulation bill she co-sponsored.

Now it seems the President is all-in for Cramer. "You need a senator who doesn't just talk like they're from North Dakota, but votes like they're from North Dakota. That's what you need, and that's Kevin Cramer," Trump said during a Fargo rally in late June.

Heitkamp should be able to keep the race close because of her strong personal brand and resource advantage -- leading Cramer $5.2 to $2.4 million in cash on hand. Cramer's bottom line should get a boost thanks to the President's visit, which his campaign says raised over $1 million.

Democrats are attacking Cramer on health care, accusing him of voting to strip protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and trade policy, a particularly acute concern in agriculture-rich North Dakota. Republicans, meanwhile, are targeting Heitkamp on hot-button issues such as abortion and so-called sanctuary cities, as well as her vote against the GOP tax cuts.

Given Trump's popularity in the state, Cramer's unwavering support for the President could be a more potent pitch to voters than Heitkamp's message of moderation. The national environment this year favors Democrats, but North Dakota is very much Trump country -- and Cramer is Trump's candidate.

New Jersey Senate: Race moves from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic

It's been nearly 50 years since New Jersey voters elected a Republican to the Senate.

Bob Hugin is a longshot to break that streak, but the pharmaceutical executive is giving Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez a serious challenge in the Garden State. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Hugin trailing Menendez by six points in a state Clinton won by 14 points in 2016 and Obama carried by 17 points four years earlier.

The federal corruption trial involving Menendez ended last November in a mistrial, but an ethical cloud continues to hang over the Democrat. Nearly half of New Jersey voters say Menendez was involved in serious wrongdoing, including 38% of Democrats.

Democratic primary voters in the state delivered a clear message to Menendez in June when little-known challenger Lisa McCormick drew 38% of the vote against the two-term incumbent. Still, Menendez received more votes than were cast in the GOP primary, which Hugin won with 75% support.

Hugin has loaned his campaign more than $15 million and has spent more than $7 million on television ads to boost his candidacy. Menendez has been saving his resources -- holding about $6.4 million cash on hand. He's also getting a little help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which recently teamed with Menendez on a joint television ad buy. Democrats feel confident Menendez's numbers will improve once he hits the airwaves. He also stands to benefit from several competitive House races in a state where Democrats have strong recruits.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 595436

Reported Deaths: 9466
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion822851311
Lake44626670
Allen32165543
Hamilton28684308
St. Joseph26917378
Elkhart24173343
Vanderburgh18856236
Tippecanoe17638125
Johnson14687289
Porter14513163
Hendricks14010242
Madison10715216
Vigo10540177
Clark10349135
Monroe9189108
Delaware8956134
LaPorte8867158
Howard7982140
Kosciusko791380
Warrick652994
Hancock646999
Bartholomew631096
Floyd6205107
Wayne5984159
Grant5874110
Dubois547175
Boone538867
Morgan524192
Henry497764
Marshall495384
Cass475362
Dearborn464545
Noble463157
Jackson417846
Shelby405680
Lawrence383876
Clinton367840
Gibson360058
DeKalb339163
Montgomery338152
Harrison333643
Knox329839
Miami312743
Steuben309343
Adams297435
Whitley297225
Wabash294947
Ripley294345
Putnam288047
Jasper285234
Huntington284959
White269138
Daviess263073
Jefferson253838
Decatur243482
Fayette242948
Greene237062
Posey234427
Wells231347
LaGrange225061
Clay219032
Scott218538
Randolph209845
Jennings193935
Sullivan189632
Spencer184319
Fountain180527
Washington179321
Starke172743
Jay163922
Fulton161130
Owen161137
Carroll153915
Orange152933
Rush151618
Perry149327
Vermillion145833
Franklin144433
Tipton129232
Parke12918
Pike114326
Blackford109222
Pulaski95337
Newton89821
Brown85931
Benton85310
Crawford7719
Martin70713
Warren6637
Switzerland6235
Union6146
Ohio4727
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 836049

Reported Deaths: 10323
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin98533705
Cuyahoga831801065
Hamilton61931441
Montgomery42028399
Summit33849736
Lucas30524605
Butler30003228
Stark25093419
Warren19083140
Lorain18418212
Mahoning16931337
Lake15592136
Clermont15335105
Delaware1403077
Licking12819132
Trumbull12515307
Fairfield1232480
Greene11729135
Medina11286165
Clark10672264
Wood10081156
Allen9639126
Portage9006107
Miami895273
Richland8910116
Marion7377113
Tuscarawas7177174
Columbiana7164124
Pickaway710350
Wayne6855165
Muskingum678241
Erie5976118
Hancock542990
Ross535287
Scioto527063
Geauga491755
Darke459489
Ashtabula443172
Lawrence439353
Union437028
Sandusky427462
Mercer427387
Seneca417357
Auglaize416259
Huron416138
Shelby413521
Jefferson409066
Belmont403740
Washington375940
Putnam367872
Athens36759
Madison343429
Knox340122
Ashland336838
Fulton328543
Defiance322578
Crawford316371
Preble313836
Brown298819
Logan296529
Ottawa283934
Clinton281243
Williams272866
Highland266018
Jackson259043
Guernsey245325
Champaign244427
Fayette229729
Morrow22574
Perry223318
Holmes220362
Henry213547
Hardin206433
Coshocton199620
Van Wert198744
Wyandot192549
Gallia192126
Adams167415
Pike167417
Hocking165523
Carroll151316
Paulding141121
Noble118740
Meigs105021
Monroe97229
Harrison8598
Morgan79728
Vinton67613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 17°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 16°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 20°
Fort Wayne
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 17°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 19°
Sunshine, Warmer Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events