Arizona is becoming a disaster zone for Republicans. In the most recent poll, Democrat Mark Kelly (husband of gun safety activist Gabrielle Giffords and a former astronaut) leads appointed incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally by nine points. He leads in the RealClearPolitics averages by eight points. Political scientist Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball now rates the race as “leans Democrat.”
North Carolina has also turned dicey for Republicans. Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is in a statistical dead heat in the RCP averages with Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. One poll has Tillis’s approval rating at a dreadful 26 percent. Cunningham also had a massive fundraising haul in the first quarter, raising $4.4 million. Sabato rates this race as a toss-up.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is the underdog in a race against former Democratic governor John Hickenlooper, with most analysts suggesting the race favors Hickenlooper. Gardner has more cash on hand, but Hickenlooper substantially out-raised him in the first quarter ($4.1 million vs. $2.5 million).
Should Democrats win all four seats but lose Alabama, the Senate would stand at 50-50, with the party that wins the White House able to cast the deciding votes via the vice president. However, the problems do not stop with these four races for Republicans.
Democrats are outpacing Republican incumbents in Kentucky ($12.9 million vs. $7.5 million) and South Carolina ($7.4 million vs. $5.7 million). Even in Kansas, “Barbara Bollier — a Democratic state senator running for the seat that will be vacated by the retiring Republican senator, Pat Roberts — drew more than $2.3 million in the first three months of the year, compared with the roughly $240,000 received by her likely Republican opponent, Kris Kobach.” Democratic polling outfit Public Policy Polling had Bollier leading Kobach by 2 points in its poll this week. (Kobach, you will recall, was sanctioned by a court for misconduct in his voting fraud escapades and lost the governor’s race in 2018.) In Montana, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock remains the underdog to defeat incumbent Sen. Steve Daines (R), but there too Bullock has out-raised ($3.3 million) the incumbent ($1.2 million).
Democrats almost certainly won’t win all these races. But with so many races in play and Democrats raising money like gangbusters, their chances of netting enough seats to gain the majority increase substantially. By contrast, there is no Democratic-held seat other than Alabama that is remotely in play. Given Democrats’ fundraising success, Republicans will need to spend money in lots of places and eventually need to decide which candidates to cut off so as to minimize their losses.
We should keep in mind that we are more than six months from Election Day and that Trump will handily win some red states (e.g., Montana and Kansas), making it harder for down-ticket Democrats. Nevertheless, at this stage, the smart money would be on Democrats at least getting a 50-50 draw.