CNN Senate Key Races: Democrats try to rebuild the Blue Wall

Donald Trump busted the Blue Wall in 2016.Democrats are poised to repair it in 2018.With 32 da...

Posted: Oct 5, 2018 6:33 PM
Updated: Oct 5, 2018 6:33 PM

Donald Trump busted the Blue Wall in 2016.

Democrats are poised to repair it in 2018.

Donald Trump

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Sherrod Brown

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With 32 days until Election Day, CNN is moving Ohio and Wisconsin from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic in its Key Race Ratings. They join two other Great Lakes states, Michigan and Pennsylvania, as likely Democratic holds.

Together these represent four of the 10 states Trump won where Democratic incumbent senators are seeking re-election and a promising sign for Democrats hoping to overcome the favorable map Republicans enjoy this cycle.

The President won the Buckeye State by eight points -- a cushion of more than 440,000 votes. The other three had razor-thin margins. Trump captured them by fewer than 80,000 votes combined.

None of the four have emerged as competitive contests, a combination of solid campaigns being run by Democratic incumbents and GOP struggles to land top-tier recruits for those races.

Michigan and Pennsylvania have been firmly fixed in the Likely Democratic column for much of the year. In the Wolverine State, Sen. Debbie Stabenow holds a commanding lead in polls against businessman and veteran John James. The same is true for Sen. Bob Casey, who is facing a challenge from GOP Rep. Lou Barletta in the Keystone State.

In Ohio, two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown has developed a strong personal brand in the state, with a majority of likely voters holding a favorable impression of the Democrat according to a recent NBC News/Marist survey. Just 31% said they had an unfavorable opinion of the senator.

Brown and Casey were both first elected in 2006, taking seats from Republicans in a year when Democrats seized control of both the House and the Senate.

In some respects Brown is more aligned with the President than his opponent, GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, on issues such as trade. Brown has been a longtime critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade pacts. Renacci has been supportive of the President's strategy on trade, but he's backed agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea in the past.

Brown has spent $8.5 million on television compared with about $500,000 for Renacci, according to data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG. The incumbent has another $4 million budgeted for the final days of the campaign while his challenger does not have any future broadcast reservations.

The polls in Ohio show Brown up double-digits. While the final margin is expected to be closer, Brown's re-election prospects do not appear to be in any serious jeopardy.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin finds herself in a similar situation in the Badger State.

The first-term senator was the target of millions of dollars in outside spending early in the race, prompting Baldwin to ramp up her fundraising efforts to have the resources necessary to respond to the attacks. The latest Marquette Law School poll found 48% of likely voters in Wisconsin have a favorable view of Baldwin compared with 40% who hold an unfavorable opinion of her.

Baldwin's opponent, state Sen. Leah Vukmir, won a hotly-contested GOP primary in August that drained valuable resources to compete with Baldwin, who despite the flood of early spending entered the general election with an overwhelming financial advantage.

Vukmir is also running out of time to define herself in the race. More voters in the state hold an unfavorable view of her -- 38% -- than favorable view -- 26%. Another 28% don't know enough about Vukmir to form an opinion.

Like Brown, Baldwin holds a clear lead in polls, though given the political polarization in Wisconsin the spread should narrow on Election Day.

With Republicans holding a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, Democrats must gain two seats to win control of the chamber.

Even if Democrats are able to sweep the Great Lakes region, the party still must defend six other seats in state Trump won -- Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. North Dakota appears most vulnerable for a GOP takeover, with a Fox News poll released Wednesday showing GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer leading Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp by 12 points. The others are a mix of Toss-Ups and Lean Democratic in CNN's ratings, but they are all competitive.

Democrats, meanwhile, are targeting four states: Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. The first three are Toss-Ups races, while Texas leans Republican.

Excluding the Lone Star State, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has described the other nine races as "too close to call and every one of them like a knife fight in an alley."

While Democrats still hold a narrow path to the majority, based on where things stand today it is more likely than not Republicans will retain control of the Senate when the dust settles from November 6.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 150664

Reported Deaths: 4008
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24697784
Lake13220352
St. Joseph8877159
Elkhart8469132
Allen7880222
Hamilton5962113
Vanderburgh559360
Tippecanoe354714
Monroe320738
Hendricks3183130
Johnson2995128
Porter297848
Clark285461
Delaware282074
Vigo252637
Madison229593
Cass222021
LaPorte215557
Warrick188464
Kosciusko176823
Floyd174867
Howard158866
Bartholomew139758
Dubois135125
Marshall132526
Henry122628
Grant120939
Wayne119327
Boone118848
Hancock114145
Noble113533
Jackson108713
Morgan92240
Dearborn91628
Daviess84033
Gibson83411
Clinton81616
Shelby79429
Lawrence78534
LaGrange76715
Harrison74024
Putnam71016
Knox70310
DeKalb69411
Posey6796
Steuben6008
Fayette58517
Miami5845
Montgomery57222
White56815
Jasper5624
Greene51837
Scott50813
Decatur49839
Adams4725
Clay4346
Whitley4316
Sullivan42812
Ripley4228
Wells4155
Starke3937
Wabash3919
Orange38725
Huntington3785
Spencer3706
Franklin36525
Jennings36013
Washington3592
Randolph3398
Fulton3362
Jefferson3305
Pike31913
Carroll31413
Perry29514
Jay2876
Fountain2863
Tipton26823
Parke2203
Newton21811
Vermillion2181
Rush2044
Owen2021
Martin1950
Blackford1923
Crawford1491
Pulaski1471
Brown1303
Ohio1227
Benton1070
Union1040
Switzerland890
Warren751
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 185639

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30978635
Cuyahoga19436675
Hamilton16234338
Montgomery10083186
Lucas8175370
Butler8028123
Summit6555261
Warren406360
Stark3696178
Mahoning3635283
Marion335149
Pickaway296946
Delaware281127
Lorain266689
Fairfield257856
Licking248865
Wood244681
Clark242454
Clermont234937
Trumbull2221134
Greene219640
Columbiana210187
Allen203873
Miami195656
Lake188357
Medina180242
Portage156167
Mercer147128
Ross133833
Wayne131568
Richland128624
Tuscarawas123622
Athens11742
Erie113853
Darke110151
Madison103514
Hancock103023
Auglaize95116
Putnam91527
Lawrence90725
Shelby86814
Muskingum8434
Geauga83650
Scioto8059
Belmont78427
Union7343
Ashtabula72148
Huron69910
Sandusky69422
Preble59517
Seneca58514
Holmes57010
Ottawa56830
Fulton5056
Jefferson4564
Henry45317
Defiance44413
Jackson4417
Clinton43613
Fayette4328
Crawford4308
Highland4024
Logan4023
Champaign3873
Ashland3735
Brown3683
Knox36215
Perry35411
Washington33323
Morrow3312
Hardin32113
Williams3194
Coshocton29812
Pike2880
Guernsey2878
Wyandot28413
Gallia27913
Van Wert2333
Meigs21012
Adams2036
Carroll1917
Paulding1901
Hocking1899
Monroe15218
Noble1210
Vinton903
Harrison793
Morgan740
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