Here are the top 14 Senate races most likely to flip parties in November, updated from April. There are 12 chances for Democrats to flip Senate seats and just two for Republicans on this list.
Because so many of the races are so close and could go either way — while others are more of a stretch for Democrats — we placed them in three categories: More likely to flip than not, toss-ups, and could flip under the right conditions.
Likely to flip: Alabama, Arizona and Colorado
Alabama (Democratic held): Sen. Doug Jones (D) remains the most vulnerable senator in 2020, as he has been all election cycle. He won in 2017 against one of the most fundamentally flawed Senate candidates in recent memory, Roy Moore. He won’t get that lucky again. He’s facing former Auburn University coach Tommy Tuberville, who recently beat former Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions in a GOP runoff. This is one of the most pro-Trump states in the nation, and Jones voted to convict Trump on both impeachment counts.
Arizona (Republican held): Former astronaut and current gun-control activist Mark Kelly is probably one of the Democrats’ strongest candidates of 2020. He has outraised Sen. Martha McSally (R) the entire race and is leading in most major recent polls. McSally has the added disadvantage of being a new senator who lost in 2018 and then was appointed by the governor to fill the late John McCain’s seat a year later. But nothing’s a given for Democrats here. Arizona also is a battleground presidential state, and while polls show the race to be close, it hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president in decades. Kelly would also be just the second Democratic senator from this state in 25 years (after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) beat McSally in 2018).
Colorado (Republican held): Democrats put themselves in a good position to unseat Sen. Cory Gardner (R) by convincing former governor John Hickenlooper (D) to run after his failed 2020 presidential bid. He made it through a primary, even after an ethics violation and a “slave ship” comment blew up right before it. Republicans think Hickenlooper is vulnerable because of these incidents, and there are indications Republican outside groups plan to spend heavily against Hickenlooper. But Hickenlooper is still a popular former governor, and it’s not clear any of this will be enough for Gardner to overcome the increasing blue lean of this state. There have been very few nonpartisan polls, but in private Democratic polling (which is to be taken with a grain of salt), Hickenlooper has a regular lead.
Toss-ups: North Carolina, Maine, Iowa, Georgia and Montana
North Carolina (Republican held): Sen. Thom Tillis (R) narrowly won his first term six years ago and is now running in a state Democrats have since made major gains in. North Carolina may also be the swingiest state at the presidential level. Two recent polls show Tillis behind former state senator and Iraq war veteran Cal Cunningham (D) by nine points, numbers that are surprising even some Democrats. A North Carolina Democratic strategist said Cunningham’s attacks on Tillis for not expanding Medicaid are resonating. But Tillis still has time to motivate Republicans (and he’ll likely be aided by Trump trying to get out the vote here). So, expect the race to tighten.
Maine (Republican held): Could this be the year Democrats finally kick out Sen. Susan Collins (R) after more than 20 years? This is the most Democratic-leaning state in the toss-up category. And Collins’s independent brand seems to have been damaged by Democrats attacking her high-profile votes in Trump’s favor, such as for his Supreme Court pick Brett M. Kavanaugh and to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. Her opponent is Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, who has been outraising Collins and hasn’t made any major stumbles. A Colby College poll in July has Gideon up five points; a Quinnipiac poll out Thursday has Gideon up by four. Still, Collins is a force in Maine, and the entire Republican apparatus knows this is a race they must win to keep the Senate majority.
Iowa (Republican held): First-term senator Joni Ernst (R) officially has a competitive reelection on her hands against Democratic real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, in large part because the presidential race is suddenly competitive in Iowa. Trump won it in 2016 by 10 points, but he is just three points ahead of Joe Biden now in a new Monmouth University poll. Iowa Democrats argue Ernst is more partisan than the state as a whole. Republicans say Iowa is still trending red. Both sides acknowledge this is going to be a tight race. That Monmouth poll had Ernst up three points over Greenfield. A Des Moines Register poll in June found the same margin, but with Greenfield ahead of Ernst. So, a toss up.
Georgia (Republican held): Democrats’ optimism that they can kick out Sen. David Perdue (R) is buoyed by how competitive Georgia is looking at the presidential level. A recent Monmouth University poll showed Trump and Biden in a dead heat among registered Georgia voters. Democrats think Perdue may be caught off-guard by the rapid growth in diversity in Atlanta’s suburbs. But for now, the first-term senator is still consistently leading in polls over his opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff. Some polls show this as a margin-of-error race, but a Monmouth poll has Perdue up by six points. Republicans promise to make a big deal of Ossoff’s age and experience. (He’s 33, which is seven years younger than the youngest U.S. senator). Ossoff, who has marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, hopes to turn out new Black voters at a high level. Democrats will still need a bit of magic to get him over 50 percent. But they have a chance.
Montana (Republican held): It’s a testament to how successful Democrats have been at recruiting candidates that this Trump-friendly state now has a Senate race considered a toss-up. Steve Bullock (D) is an outgoing popular two-term governor who won reelection in 2016 when Trump won by 20 points. After a failed 2020 presidential run, Bullock will try to unseat Steve Daines (R), a first-term senator. Good polling is hard to come by in Montana, but Montana voters are known for voting for the Republican for president and a Democrat for governor or Senate. Trump looks like he’ll win Montana by just a fraction of his margin from four years ago — could that be enough for Bullock to convince voters in this conservative-leaning state to kick out their sitting Republican senator and send him to the Senate?
Could flip in the right conditions: Michigan, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky and Alaska
Michigan (Democratic held): Besides Alabama, this is Republicans’ best pickup opportunity. Yet the race keeps getting less competitive for them, in part because Republican candidate John James, an Iraq War veteran and conservative media darling, just hasn’t been able to gain traction against Sen. Gary Peters (D) despite James’s strong fundraising. And even though Trump narrowly won this state in 2016, polls this time show Biden with an average nine-point lead here.
Georgia’s special election (Republican held): After a retirement, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) was recently appointed to this seat. She’s having trouble keeping it, but not necessarily because of Democrats. Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R), who vocally defended Trump during impeachment, is challenging her for the seat. All the candidates, regardless of party, will be on the ballot in November. If no one gets above 50 percent, the top two will have a runoff in January. Democrats are hoping that one of their candidates, specifically Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock, can squeeze into the top two. But if he does make it to a January runoff, he won’t have Biden at the top of the ticket to help him get out the Democratic vote. And while Georgia is an increasingly competitive state, it hasn’t yet proved to be a place where Democrats can win statewide.
Texas (Republican held): The same goes for Texas, though Democrats got close in 2018 when Beto O’Rourke came within 2.5 points of beating Sen. Ted Cruz (R). This time, Democrats recently nominated former congressional candidate and Air Force veteran MJ Hegar to try to take out Sen. John Cornyn (R). But Cornyn is a less polarizing senator than Cruz. And despite how rapidly diverse the Texas suburbs have become, Texas Democrats have yet to strike gold on a formula to get Latino Democrats and young voters consistently out to vote for them. The main reason this race is on our list is because it has, remarkably, tightened at the presidential level. Two recent polls show this basically a dead heat between Trump and Biden, which is not a position Trump or Cornyn want the president to be in less than three months from the election.
South Carolina (Republican held): Under normal circumstances, we’d be hard pressed to see how such a powerful senator, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R), could have a competitive race in a deep red, pro-Trump state. But Democrat Jaime Harrison has managed to raise millions, and now a Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday shows Harrison tied with Graham at 47 percent each. It suggests Trump’s struggles in dealing with the coronavirus are dragging down Graham, a prominent Trump ally. But Republicans are still questioning whether there are enough independents souring on Trump here to make a difference. It will almost certainly require Trump’s numbers dropping even more for Democrats to win in this state.
Kentucky (Republican held): We remain extremely skeptical Democrat Amy McGrath can unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), despite her massive fundraising. She has struggled trying not to alienate Trump voters here, and she had a stronger-than-expected primary challenger in the summer. Plus, McConnell’s priority is keeping the Senate majority, and that starts with his own race, in a state he knows how to win in. All that being said, Trump isn’t helping him do that. As the president’s numbers sink even in Kentucky, a Quinnipiac University poll has McConnell with a five-point lead over McGrath, which is narrower than some expected, and independents in Kentucky actually back McGrath right now, 46 points to 40 points. It will still take a historic Democratic tsunami to knock out McConnell though, like the other races at the bottom of this list.
Alaska (Republican held): Democrats are throwing their support behind independent Al Gross, a doctor and fisherman with money of his own to spend, as he tries to unseat Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), who narrowly beat a well-known Democrat six years ago to come to the Senate. Yet again, Trump’s handling of the coronavirus is the top reason it has the potential to be competitive. Alaska does have an independent streak and has elected Democrats to the Senate. But this state is also hard to poll.
A note about Kansas: The open Senate seat is another one Democrats think could flip in the right conditions, even after Republicans got their preferred candidate, Rep. Roger Marshall, through a primary this week over the much-weaker Kris Kobach. But the primary just happened, and we need to see more evidence of how the race between him and Barbara Bollier, a state senator who recently left the Republican Party, shapes up before it goes on the list again.