Scott Rasmussen: Race for control of Senate is a toss-up
The race for the White House is drawing all the attention, but control of the Senate is also up for grabs in Election 2016. The initial Rasmussen Senate Projections show the Republicans emerging from the election with 48 seats, the Democrats with 47, and 5 in the Toss-Up category (details at RasmussenMediaGroup.com).
When you add up all the seats that are likely, safe, or certain to be with one party or the other, Republicans hold a 46-44 advantage. Control will be determined by who wins 10 states in the Leaning or Toss-Up categories.
Three of these critical states currently lean toward the Democrats — Illinois, Wisconsin, and Colorado.
The first two are the only states currently projected to flip from one party to the other. Republican Sen. Mark Kirk faces an uphill battle to keep his job in the generally Democratic state of Illinois. Just to the north, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson faces a similar challenge.
Two states are leaning in the Republican direction. They are held by Republicans John McCain in Arizona and Richard Burr in North Carolina.
The five toss-ups include three states that are also competitive states in the race for the White House — Ohio, Florida, and New Hampshire. Pennsylvania is also a toss-up, where Republican Pat Toomey is holding on in a state that is traditionally difficult for his party. Out west, Senator Harry Reid is retiring. As a result, Nevada provides the only toss-up race for a seat currently held by a Democrat.
If Hillary Clinton is elected president, the Democrats need to win three of the five toss-ups to gain control of the Senate. That would create a 50-50 split and the new vice president would cast the deciding ballot. If Donald Trump wins the White House, Democrats would need to win four of the five toss-up states.
Realistically, that suggests that whichever party wins the White House has a good chance to also win control of the Senate. Regardless of the presidential and senate races, the Republicans are still favored to control the House of Representatives.
If the Democrats are unable to win the Senate in 2016, it may be a long time before they are able to regain control. Looking down the road to the next election, the Senate map definitely favors the GOP. Only eight Republican seats will be at risk that year along with 25 Democratic seats. Adding to the 2018 challenge for President Obama’s party, the Republicans generally will be defending seats in safe Republican states.
Democrats, however, will have to defend Senate seats in five states that Obama lost (Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia) along with several competitive states like Ohio and Florida.
The Rasmussen Senate Projections will be updated weekly and as events merit. The projections are derived from aggregating projections by top analysts such as Larry Sabato and the results from prediction markets like PredictIt.org. It is interesting to note that the prediction markets are more likely than the analysts to see trouble for incumbent senators.
The Rasmussen Electoral College Projections currently show Hillary Clinton with 281 electoral votes, Donald Trump with 191, and 66 in the Toss-Up category.