Key Races for Flipping the Senate
Now that the presumptive Democratic nominee for president has been determined, it’s time to focus on some national races, in various states, that give Democrats the best chance for overtaking Republicans to gain the majority in the Senate. Below are the key races that could use your efforts in terms of donations and volunteer work. Be sure to keep checking back in on this article, as many Democratic Primary Elections have been pushed back due to the coronavirus and I will be updating the featured candidates as those elections conclude.
Republican Susan Collins is facing a competitive race for the first time since she won a Senate seat in 1996. A new Colby College poll shows that 42% of respondents said that they would vote for Ms. Collins in November, compared with 43% who said they would vote for her expected Democratic rival, Sara Gideon, Maine’s current State House Speaker.
Collins has also faced push back after her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after it was alleged that he was involved in a sexual assault incident several years ago, according to the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This seat represents a vital stronghold for women’s rights activists and plays a key role in flipping the Senate in November. This race should take priority in any donation list you have.
The Senate race in Iowa is getting real, according to a new poll that shows incumbent Republican Joni Ernst’s lead over her likely Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield, narrowing to just 1 percentage point.
The new Public Policy Polling survey shows Ernst leading Greenfield by only 43 percent to 42 percent, suggesting a much closer race than previously expected. A poll conducted in December by the same firm had Ernst leading Greenfield by 6 points, so this gap seems to be slowly closing.
Although the company conducting the polling does have a Democratic-leaning tilt, the survey also reflects that Ernst’s approval rating in Iowa is currently not faring well. Just 37 percent of respondents said they approve of the job she’s doing in office compared to 43 percent who disapprove. Given how tight this race continues to be, this is where your time and/or funding will go a long way to help Democrats.
In what is sure to be a barn burner of a race, Democrat and former fighter pilot Amy McGrath has out-raised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the first three months of 2020. This shows she has the power to really compete in this critical election. McConnell, a prolific fundraiser who is seeking his seventh term, has raised $25.6 million so far for the 2020 election cycle and has nearly $14.9 million on hand for the coming months.
This race will be the most critical and contentious of the season — if McGrath can oust such a firmly rooted Senator in this previously deep red state, it will mean that the old days of blocking nominations to stack judiciary seats with Republican lackeys are over. Although McGrath is doing well in funding, this is a race that will need a lot of support to get the win in November and one that is well worth your money and time.
Democrat and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly has been leading Republican Martha McSally in all five polls conducted in Arizona in the month of March with an average lead of 7 percentage points. Kelly is the husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a shooting in Tucson at a public event in 2011.
This race is very personal for many in Arizona. McSally supports Trump’s plan to attack pre-existing conditions in the courts, siding with insurance companies, and represents a huge danger to all of us in preserving our healthcare rights. McSally lost an incredibly close race to newcomer Kyrsten Sinema in 2018 and has been an avid supporter of Donald Trump. She was appointed to fill John McCain’s seat after his death by state Republicans, never really earning her spot. McSally also came under heavy criticism after lashing out at CNN’s Manu Raju in the halls of Congress when he attempted to ask her a question during the impeachment trial of Trump.
Jaime Harrison, the former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, has out-raised Republican Incumbent Lindsey Graham in the first quarter of 2020, taking in $7.3 million to Graham’s $5.5 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Harrison has been running on a platform that includes lowering the cost of health care, expanding the child care tax credit and supporting paid family and sick leave and his Facebook Town Hall meetings are garnering him lots of great digital attention.
This race is still technically considered to be a “safe Republican” stronghold, but as we tick closer to November, Harrison continues to pick up polling points. In the digital age where political blunders and mis-steps occur in record fast pace, anything can happen. This might be a tough race to win, but it would be so satisfying to see flip-flopper Lindsey Graham replaced with a competent and professional candidate who can really help push the progressive agenda forward.
According to a new poll from Montana State University released on Tuesday, Montana Democratic Governor Steve Bullock leads incumbent Republican Steve Daines by 7 percentage points in the state’s Senate race. With 7% of respondents saying they are undecided, and another 6% confirming they will vote for another candidate, there is still ground for either candidate to pick up and this race is firmly in play.
Bullock’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has no doubt helped to boost his numbers recently and Montana now looks to be a state where Democrats need to invest their time and energy. Election handicappers are giving Daines a slight edge in the race and The Cook Political Report is rating the contest as “lean[ing] Republican.”
With a margin of error in the above poll of of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, the poll suggests a tight race between Bullock and Daines, so your time and money would be important in helping the Democrat secure the win in this race.
North Carolina Democrat Cal Cunningham outraised Republican Incumbent Thom Tillis in the first quarter of 2020, bringing in $4.4 million in the first three months of 2020, compared with about $2.1 million for Tillis. The problem for army veteran Cunningham is that he still has less than half of Tillis’s overall take in the bank — Cunningham has about $3 million cash on hand while Tillis is sitting on $6.5 million.
For a little while now, elections in North Carolina have been competitive with the Republican candidate just slightly edging out the Democrat. This race is another opportunity for a purple state to swing more firmly in a blue direction and establish the once conservative stronghold as a solid battleground state.
While Trump took North Carolina in 2016, Democrats remain hopeful that the demographics in the suburbs around Charlotte and Raleigh are in flux enough to create change, spurred by a surge in Democratic-leaning professionals.
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has recently won the Democratic Senate primary in Colorado and will face incumbent Cory Gardner in November. This is a Senate seat that is incredibly vulnerable and essential for Democrats’ path back to the Senate majority in the fall.
Hickenlooper is seen as a strong contended based on his record of never loosing an election in the state and the fact that Cory Gardner’s record and rhetoric has been tied to Trump. Perhaps Hickenlooper said it best: "But this fight isn't going to be easy. Donald Trump, the Republicans and their dark-money groups are going to keep throwing everything they've got. Everything they've got they're going to throw at us because they can't defend Cory Gardner's record."
This is a secure bet if you want to put money into a candidate that has very good odds at turning a seat blue, and this is a must-win race for the Democrats.
Other Senate Races to Watch
There are several other seats that Democrats will either need to hold or overtake in November that remain in play. We have a very viable seat in Colorado, where several great candidates are currently competing in the primary to go against Republican Incumbent Cory Gardner. The candidate who is currently in the lead is former Democratic Presidential Candidate, John Hickenlooper, who would be a great contender against Gardner. You can donate to John Hickenlooper or volunteer for his campaign here.
We also need to help Democratic Incumbent Doug Jones get re-elected in Alabama. The primary in Texas in July will firmly establish who will be competing against incumbent Republican John Cornyn. Democrats MJ Hegar and Royce West finished first and second in the March 3 primary, and the two will face off in a July 14 runoff that was delayed two months by the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s important to note that we also need to hold Democratic seats in Minnesota, New Hampshire and Michigan. Stay tuned as I will be putting out another round of quick candidate breakdowns as we get closer to November and the numbers shift. Now is a great time to pick a few candidates and donate or get involved and watch your work pay off in real time. Let’s roll.
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Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney who contributes to magazines, newspapers and radio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.