A 50-50 Senate Split Is as Good a Bet as Any: Forecast

For now, Democrats have slight edge in race for control
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2020 5:35 PM CDT
A 50-50 Senate Split Is as Good a Bet as Any: Forecast
Vice President Mike Pence elbow bumps with Republican Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona on Friday.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

Democrats have a slight edge at the moment in their effort to take control of the Senate from Republicans, but many outcomes—including a tie—remain possible. That's the upshot from FiveThirtyEight, which kicked off its Senate forecast Friday. The most likely result from the November elections is a Senate pretty closely divided, possibly 50-50, the forecast shows. An even split would make control of the Senate dependent on who's elected vice president and owns the tie-breaking vote: Kamala Harris or Mike Pence. FiveThirtyEight's model is based on the one it used for the 2018 congressional elections, which it says was on the money, and plugs in such factors as polls, fundraising, incumbency and forecasts from other experts.

At least a dozen races around the country are competitive. Although the Democrats are in good shape, none of those races is a sure thing for them. Still, there's a chance Democrats emerge from the November elections holding at least 54 Senate seats. There are challenges for them. Doug Jones trails in polls in Alabama. If he loses, Democrats would need to flip at least four seats now held by Republicans, and some of those victories would have to be in states Republicans usually win. Arizona is the surest bet for Democrats, per FiveThirtyEight. Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to her seat, is well behind Democrat Mark Kelly in polls there. In states such as North Carolina, Maine and Montana, there's data and logic enough to support thinking either party could win. (More fivethirtyeight.com stories.)

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