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A Democrat Senate Majority

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, February 26th, 2020 - 21 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, elections, International, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

So many left-leaning people around the world are looking to the United States election in November this year. We need to pay attention to the thing that enables the Presidential winner to get things done: a Senate majority.

The recent impeachment trial showed that without a Senate Democratic majority, the Congress majority meant nothing and the trial was just dead in its tracks. The Constitution was enacted in form but its substance got hollowed out badly.

Republicans hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats. Democrats need a net gain of three seats to beat them. They won’t win everything back they got last time, so they need to win more than three. They also need a buffer of one or two, as Democratic Senators are not as whippable as the Republicans, on the last 20 years of record.

A Presidential candidate can promise all they like, but unless they have a majority in the Senate, any substantial policy or appointment moves are nigh impossible. It’s nowhere near enough to have a strong Democrat in the White House.

So there are some key Senate races that the Democrats need to win if they are to achieve that Senate majority and enable that critical part of the policy formation lever to work for the good of the United States.

In order of likelihood, the Democrats have a shot at a few:

Cory Gardner is the incumbent Republican Senator, winning by just 40,000 votes in 2016. This is the Democrats’ best shot at a seat shift. Their candidate will be either John Hickenlooper or the former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, and the winner of that will probably win Colorado for the Democrats.

Kyrsten Sinema won the Arizona senate race in 2018 – the first senate seat win for them since 1976. While her white vote was pretty good, it was her 70% share of the Latino vote that got her over the top by just 56,000 votes. More than 6000,000 eligible Latino’s didn’t vote in 2018, so there may well be upside to her majority. Also, Mark Kelly, husband of former representative Gabby Giffords, is an excellent contender. Arizona is strong for the Dems in the Senate.

There’s two Senate seats in play here. I really have no idea who will get the candidacy for the Democrats, but Stacey Abrams fought and generated a sweet electoral infrastructure. Regardless of who gets the nod, Georgia should be all hands on deck for progressives. And let’s put it out there: wouldn’t Abrams make an awesome Vice Presidential nomination?

Sara Gideon versus the odious paper tiger Susan Collins. I like this already. Collins’ favourability numbers are underwater. Maine voted Democratic in the last seven presidential elections. Sara is the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. Go do it Sara.

OK this is harder. Republican John Cornyn is no slug. Cristina Ramirez is the one with the potential clearest and most logical path to winning. She comes from an organizing background, and with deep Latino ties has the potential to capitalize on the state with the greatest progressive electoral potential of any state in the country. Groups like the Texas Organising Project have tilted the difference in mayoral races in Houston and San Antonio. Of course it would be a massive Republican shock.

Taking these five would be amazing, and give a tiny margin.

But then…

I know, it’s already proven bonkers and organizationally incoherent during the primaries. Obama won it in 2008, and then it blew out to Trump in 2016. Maybe it’s too annoying to think about, but Iowans know they need change from what they have. Heck there’s even a shot that a progressive like Theresa Greenfield could get the nomination.

After that, you start going
mumblemumbleMississippiKeepHopeAlivemumblemumble. Yeah well.

The Democrats are going to need to win at least 5 to be safe, as they’ll lose a couple as they always do.

For us anxious progressives who see how important the United States is to democracy itself in this current world, a good President isn’t enough. The system needs a Senate that enables the President deliver the goods for all the good citizens who have been screwed under Trump.

Watch these Senate races just as hard as the Presidential one.

21 comments on “A Democrat Senate Majority ”

  1. Dot 1

    Good information there Advantage, thank you

  2. Bill 2

    A movement is like a rising tide that raises all boats, no? How many and how high will be seen soon enough.

  3. Phil 3

    They won’t win everything back they got last time

    Doug Jones (D) was lucky to come up against the completely vile Roy Moore in Alabama, in the 2017 special election after Jeff Sessions became Trump's AG. In 2020 Jones is likely to be defending against… Jeff Sessions. Sessions is a completely different kind of vile to Moore, but is broadly liked by Alabaman's and should take that seat back into Republican hands.

    Other than that, I don't see much on the map where I'd be worried of another Republican gain.

    • Andre 3.1

      I can envisage a scenario where Bernie becomes the nominee, then the Spraytan Stalin becomes ever more deranged and Bernie also doubles down on stuff that plays well to his base but is unappealing to the broader electorate, then places like Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, New Mexico could hold their noses and vote for Bernie but then vote Repug for House and Senate. Specifically to rid themselves of the Mandarin Manutang, but also to put a handbrake on Bernie so he can't in turn do outrageous stuff.

      That applies even more strongly to the senate seats that are currently Repug but are pickup opportunities for the Dems.

      • Phil 3.1.1

        Bernie becomes the nominee… then places like Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, New Mexico could hold their noses and vote for Bernie but then vote Repug for House and Senate.

        I see where you're coming from, but I tend to discount the probability of that happening. The trend in the US is strongly *toward* tribalism and down-the-line voting, not away from it. I think it would take a very weird set of factors to generate voter decision making like you suggest.

        Plus, there's now four years of documented evidence of Republican representatives and senators falling over themselves to be the most like little donnie, so if you're a voter who isn't in favour of Trump you're probably not in favour of those guys either.

        • Andre

          … it would take a very weird set of factors to generate voter decision making like you suggest …

          Well, yeah. But we're already living 'seriously weird' and I don't think we're close to peak weird yet.

  4. Sabine 4

    It is the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party.

    so it would be a Democratic Senate Majority, as it is a Republican Senate Majority.

  5. Phil 5

    Re: Georgia

    Georgia has a weird 'jungle primary' senate vote where every declared candidate goes on the ballot on November 3rd and, if no-one wins an absolute majority of votes, the top two candidates go into a run-off on January 5th. How that is going to shake out when they're voting for two seats – the regularly cycled seat held by Perdue (R), and an open special-election for the other – is literally anyone's guess.

    Stacey Abrams is not running for either seat.

  6. Andre 6

    North Carolina is also a good pick-up prospect for the Dems. Thom Tillis is a first-termer, not very popular, and has tied himself tight to Deranged Dotard. NC often elects Dems in statewide elections, it only appears more Repug than it actually is because of effective gerrymandering.

    The importance of winning the Senate as well cannot be overstated. Given the lack of blowback for ignoring constitutional obligations and smashing norms, you can bet that McTurtle, if he retains the Majority Leadership, will delight in further trashing any concept of good governance by refusing to fulfill even the simplest of his obligations, such as confirming judges.

  7. Phil 7

    Some others that could get interesting:

    Kansas – Long-term incumbent senator Pat Roberts (R) is retiring. The state has been hit hard by Trump's tariff war. A recent poll of the two most likely candidates shows them tied at 43%.

    Kentucky – Mitch McConnell is probably the most hated man in America right now and has seven primary challengers against him. There's also 10 Democrats in their primary race. Both of these are good signs for the race being worth keeping an eye on. There's only one poll of McConnell against his most likely democrat challenger Amy McGrath and it's from July, but she's right on his tail. Also, McGrath's a total badass a-la Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.

    North Carolina – Incumbent Thom Tills (R) marginally trails his likely challenger Cal Cunningham (D) in recent polling.

    • Andre 7.1

      Kentuckians may indeed hate McTurtle, with good reason. But they sure do love all the pork he delivers for them. So he's likely to set a record for the biggest margin ever between his approval rating and winning popular vote percentage come November.


    • Macro 7.2

      Yeah the Kentucky situation is very interesting. I thought that this was a shoe in for Moscow Mitch – and normally it would be – but then I read a report recently about a group of miners who had tried to get an meeting with him about on-going health concerns. They had travelled all day to see him and had let him know in advance of their desire to talk with him and he wouldn't give them the time of day. They were not impressed. Yes he and his wife are pork barrelling the state as hard as they can – but like all these things the main benefits go to the well to do and the poor are left behind to pick up what scraps they can.

      Here is a recent summary of the race from the Hill;

      Kentucky can be a tough state for Democrats to win elections in. Amy McGrath first ran for congress in the state back in 2018, losing to incumbent Andy Barr. She performed very well, losing by only 10,000 votes to Barr who had won by over 22% points in 2016.

      McGrath, who served in the Marine Corps as a fighter pilot, will now challenge Mitch McConnell for his senate seat in 2020. While McConnell has held the seat since 1985, new polling shows that he will be in for a significant battle this time around.

      The first poll that showed a close race was from the AARP. This survey showed McConnell only leading his opponent by a margin of 1%.

      Now two more recent polls are backing up the findings from that July survey. A study conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang had the incumbent holding a 43-40 lead over the challenger.

      Another survey, this one taken by Change Research, had the duo in a dead heat for the senate seat.

      Complicating things for McConnell is the presence of Libertarian candidate Charles Barron. Right-leaning Kentuckians could opt to vote for Barron rather than the incumbent.

      Another issue for McConnell is his unpopularity with Americans. Susan Collins recently passed the Kentucky lawmaker as America’s most unpopular senator, but McConnell still only holds a 37% approval rating.


  8. AB 8

    It may not only be Republicans who want to stop the Sanders programme. It's possible he would also have to primary conservative Democrats and replace them with his supporters as candidates in the 2022 mid-terms.

    • Andre 8.1

      Given that conservative Democrats are almost always positioned that way because that's what's needed to win their districts, and mid-terms almost always swing against the sitting president's party, that plan would just about guarantee Sanders would be a hamstrung lame duck for the last two years of his term.

      • AB 8.1.1

        "conservative Democrats are almost always positioned that way because that's what's needed to win their districts"

        If this is correct, then what you say is true. I think the argument from the Sanders camp might be that positioning themselves that way is why Democrats actually lose so often, or only hang on marginally. I do hope we get to find out who's right.

        • Andre

          What would you think of AOC's chances of winning the senate seats held by Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Jon Tester (Montana) or Doug Jones (Alabama), to mention the three most conservative Dem senators that immediately come to mind? Or say Conor Lamb's House seat in Pennsylvania?

          (Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is an interesting case. Conservative voting record, which ties in with Arizona just starting to shade from solid red into purple. But then since she is openly bi in her personal life, she may feel the need to avoid getting offside on hot-button social issues. If Mark Kelly wins, gonna be interesting to watch how he votes)

          While there's certainly a few House seats filled by crusty old Dem geezers that are ripe for a young vibrant challenger to come in and displace the old timeserver that's been there forever, the operative word is 'few'. At a guess, a dozen max.

        • Phil

          I think the argument from the Sanders camp might be that positioning themselves that way [conservatively] is why Democrats actually lose so often,

          The fundamental structure of the senate (2x Senators per state, regardless of size) is the biggest reason why Democrats struggle to win a majority in it. There are just too many small, mostly rural, states that are reliably Republican.

          On top of that, the Democrat primary electorate in those rural states is more moderate/conservative than, say, West Hollywood or The Bronx… so it's unlikely that a more liberal or Sanders-like candidate would even get through the primary to begin with.

  9. DS 9

    The Democrats will lose Alabama, of course.

    So four pick-ups needed. Colorado, Maine, and Arizona are the best bet. Plus one more out of North Carolina, Iowa, and Montana. Texas is too expensive to campaign in, and Georgia hasn't quite hit the demographic flip-point (it will soonish though). The rest are a pipe-dream.

    • Phil 9.1

      Texas is too expensive to campaign in

      Yeah, but that's true for both the Dem and Rep candidate.

      Julian & Joaquin Castro and Beto O'Rouke have all declined to run, so there doesn't appear to be an obvious front-runner yet for the Dems.

      I tend to think that if the Dem's are competitive in this senate race, then they're probably also going to be competitive in a lot of other senate races that are easier pick-ups, so at least in the short term Texas will be a 'nice to have' rather than a 'need to have' senate seat.

  10. Josh 10

    Trump will thrash the pants off Sanders.

    Trump is the man.

    Sanders is an old goat without a coherent thought or original ideal

    Trump is a shoo in this year, and that is a damn good thing.

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