Although all eyes are on Biden and Trump this election year, there are some other crucial races going on further down the ballot, especially in the Senate.
Every two years Americans go to the polls for federal elections, but most people only pay attention when the presidential race is on the ballot. The other contests get lost in the bright lights focused on the presidential candidates. This year is no different, but those other races will decide who holds power over creating legislation, regardless of the presidential outcome.
As it stands right now there isn’t much doubt that the Democrats will hold onto power in the House of Representatives. Although all the seats are being contested this year as they are every two years, due to gerrymandering most contests won’t be close. The Republicans would need to flip 17 seats to gain control of the lower house but with Trump down in the polls he won’t be able to raise their chances.
Less attached to national politics, but in presidential election years a strong president can help sway the vote in swing state gubernatorial races. The competition for the 13 governorships, 11 states and 2 territories, doesn’t hold many surprises this year. The closest race will be in Montana, where Republican Greg Gian forte holds a three percent lead over the Democrat Mike Cooney.
The real race – the Senate
The real contest will be in the Senate this year with 35 seats in play. More Republicans are up for re-election than Democrats – 23 to 12 – and the odds are in the Democrats’ favor. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Democrats have a 74 percent chance of gaining control of the upper house of Congress with a 51 to 49 majority. Money has been flowing into the Democrats with them able to outspend their opponents, making some races closer than they should be.
Lindsey Graham vs. Jaime Harrison in South Carolina
Incumbent GOP Senator Graham is fighting off a strong challenge from Jaime Harrison, a former state party chair and protégé of Representative James Clyburn. Mr. Graham, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, raced through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett in a hope to firm up his conservative base but revealing deep hypocrisy for doing so in an election year. He has made pleas to donors to help him in this race as Mr. Harris has pulled in piles of cash from around the country and the national party looking to unseat Mr. Graham.
Martha McSally vs. Mark Kelly in Arizona
Incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally, who was appointed to her seat after the death of John McCain, had previously lost to her Democrat rival in a 2018 bid for the Senate. She is up against Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot while campaigning in 2011 after which she became an advocate of gun safety. Mr. Kelly has the lead currently in the polls and in funds to spend.
.@JoeBiden and I agree that pain is best overcome by purpose.
I still struggle to speak, but at tonight’s #DemConvention, I made my voice heard.
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) August 20, 2020
Susan Collins vs. Sara Gideon in Maine
Senator Susana Collins is behind in the polls to State House Speaker Sara Gideon. Ms. Collins has tried to be a moderate Republican but that is perhaps her Achilles heel as she is neither conservative enough, having angered Republicans with her vote saving the Affordable Care act and voting to hear witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial. For Democrats she has been a supporter of Trump’s agenda with her vote for Justice Brett Kavanaugh or her vote against impeaching President Trump saying: “I think he’s learned his lesson.”
Joni Ernst vs. Theresa Greenfield in Iowa
Senator Joni Ernst was elected to the Senate in 2014 on her roots as someone who grew up on a farm. She sits on the Senate Agricultural Committee, which made her slip-up in the debate against her opponent Ms. Greenfield all the more egregious when asked what the breakeven price is for soybeans is. Ms. Greenfield is an Iowa businesswoman but a self-described “scrappy farm kid.”
Thom Tillis vs. Cal Cunningham in North Carolina
This race has seen some rather strange turns of events in recent days as Mr. Tillis has come down with the coronavirus and his opponent Mr. Cunningham has admitted to exchanging sexually explicit texts with a woman that is not his wife. Senator Tillis is defending his seat by sticking close to Trump after his loyalty was challenged in the primary. The state is hotly contested for the presidential election.
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