Senate Control Is a Coin Toss: 6 Key Races to Watch

A 50-50 tie is possible after Tuesday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2016 10:01 AM CST
Senate Control Is a Coin Toss: 6 Key Races to Watch
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, talks with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

So which party will control the Senate next year? Flip a coin. That's the current assessment at, which gives Democrats a 52% or 53% chance of regaining control and a 16% chance of a 50-50 tie. In the latter case, the new VP would cast tie-breaking votes. Not too long ago, most forecasts comfortably predicted that Democrats would wrest control, but things have tightened considerably. The GOP currently has a 54-46 advantage (two independents caucus with Democrats), but Democrats have an opportunity to pick up ground up because 24 of the 34 seats up for grabs are held by Republicans. Some key races, per FiveThirtyEight, the Washington Post, and NBC News:

  • New Hampshire: GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte has been in a virtual dead heat with Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. This race in particular "is expected to play a critical role in determining which party will hold the Senate majority next year," notes the Post.
  • Wisconsin: Republican Ron Johnson is defending his seat in a tight race against a familiar Democratic name, former Sen. Russ Feingold.
  • Pennsylvania: Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, a staunch conservative, is in a close one with challenger Katie McGinty, who could get a boost if Hillary Clinton wins the state.
  • Illinois: GOP incumbent Mark Kirk is in real danger of losing to Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth. (Moments like this haven't helped him.)
  • Missouri: Democratic challenger Jason Kander has a chance of ousting Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.
  • Nevada: Harry Reid is retiring, and Republicans hope to get a flip of their own. The GOP's Joe Heck is keeping it close with Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.
(More Senate stories.)

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