Racism, misogyny, and just plain controversial. At a time when the GOP is diminishing in size and strength, the last thing they would need is a figure who stirs fury in the hearts and minds of voters. Unfortunately, that's exactly who carries the red baton, and if it weren't for the Democrats fighting fire with fire by nominating a criminal, Republican hopefuls in all races may have found themselves severely behind.
The big blue wall certainly exists, but so does a big red wall. Northeast and Western states like New York, New Hampshire, California, and Washington are almost guaranteed to go to the Democrats without challenge. Midwest and Southern states including the Dakotas, Alabama, and Georgia, are almost guaranteed to stick with Republicans. These states are predictable enough for pollster and predictors to ignore when analyzing the senate race. About fifteen states have no senators up for reelection, meaning these states remain safe for the incumbent party.
That leaves a handful of states in play, the same states up for grabs in the presidential election.
As of Today
If the election were held right now, the Republicans would lose three seats but maintain control by a single seat. Youtube user Pedestrian Predictor did a nonpartisan analysis of each contestable senate race that he recently concluded with Hampshire. His analysis is consistent with RealClearPolitics, showing that the GOP keeps the Senate by just one seat.
He compares not only the current polls, but previous voting records, campaign funding, and the ideological preference of voters in each state, making each analysis incredibly thorough and comprehensive.
On a net-seat scale, the Republicans are the losers. The Democrats nab at least three Midwestern seats: one in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Where RealClearPolitics and Pedestrian Predictor vary are in Nevada and Pennsylvania. RCP shows the GOP taking Nevada in whole, whereas PP shows the Republicans losing the junior Nevada seat but nabbing a seat in Pennsylvania. Both show the Midwest turning blue however.
The Republicans start from behind to begin with as 36 Democratic seats aren't up for reelection for, including the two independents caucusing with the Democrats. This is compared to just 30 for the Republicans.
Flipping Solid Red
Other's analyzing the Senate races see the opportunity for Democrats to take solid Republican states. CNN for example see Missouri as a toss-up, despite it's states as a reliable GOP stronghold. Predicting aggregate site FiveThirtyEight examines the same battleground states that RCP & PP examined, including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, showing the states may go red.
What will determine the Senate results, much like the presidential race, is voter turnout. If early voting is any indication, we can expect record breaking turnout in a record breaking election. White people will assuredly be the largest demographic when all is said and done, with college educated and men and women leaning Clinton, and older Americans leaning Trump. In key states like Florida and Nevada, Hispanic turnout is key. We've already seen a lower turnout in early voting for black voters, a sign Clinton may not have the same level of support from this demographic as Obama did.
American voters dont plan to vote along party lines. There are Republicans for Clinton, and, to a lesser extent, Democrats for Trump. There are independent voters who steer clear of both parties. There are voters #FeelingtheJohnson and going for #JillNotHill. And, of course, the Mormons for McMullin. The point is, no one is getting exclusive attention this election round.
Maybe it's the massive unpopularity of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or maybe it's the risk of having one party rule over the entire federal government. Either way American's are planning to split their tickets.
Of course, this plan has more support among Clinton voters, as 52% of them say they are somewhat or very likely to vote for Republicans for other offices come Tuesday. For Trump supporters, the love for the other side of aisle is less. A a third of Trump voters plan to vote exclusively for Republicans, and fifth say it's not likely they'll cast any votes for Democrats.
Time Will Tell
The only way to know for sure who will win the Senate is to wait until the clock expires on Tuesday. If the race for the White House is difficult to predict, then the Senate race is near impossible. There are too many variables to sway to outcome one way or another, and in the end it's entirely possible we have a split Senate, with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
What can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that whatever party wins the White House, is most likely to win the Senate.
© 2016 Drew Jeffers