The 2020 Election: More Than Trump vs. Biden
2020 has been one heck of a year already, but things are just getting started in terms of elections. While the race between President Trump and Vice President Biden garners most of the media attention, there are several ridiculously vital Senate elections sliding under the radar. These elections are immensely important, as the Senate plays a massive role in pushing or vetoing legislation.
Also, as we’re seeing right now, the Senate has the ability to confirm or veto the President’s nomination to the Supreme Court. After the tragic death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many Republicans have spoken out in support of President Trump’s nomination. This decision is very complicated and partisan, as many Democrats are in favor of waiting until after the election and letting the next President choose the next Supreme Court Judge. As of October 1st, the Republicans have enough Senate votes to confirm whomever President Trump nominates. It’s possible that this will energize the Democratic base and encourage even more people to vote in November, which could impact the senatorial elections.
Currently, the Republican party controls a majority of the United States Senate with 53 seats occupied –the Democrats only have 45, with two Independents caucusing with them. However, in this upcoming election cycle, the Republicans face an uphill battle in defending their majority. In states like Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Montana, Democrats are keeping things close among many establishment Republicans.
Sen. Martha McSally (R-Inc) vs. Mark Kelly (D)
The Democrats absolutely hit a grand slam with their recruitment of Captain Mark Kelly to run for Senate. Kelly is a former fighter pilot, astronaut, and the wife of Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2012. Giffords and Kelly have launched a group called Giffords that is focused on gun control. The name notoriety and the lack of popularity for current Senator Martha McSally has made this a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats. McSally ran for Senate to replace outgoing Senator Jeff Flake, and lost to Democrat Krysten Sinema. This was the first Democratic Senate pickup in Arizona since 1995. The McSally campaign has suffered from missteps as well, most notably when she called on her supporters to skip meals, and donate the money saved to her campaign. With or without that, McSally is trailing in the polls to a popular figure in Arizona, and we could see a huge shift in Arizona politics moving forward with two democratic Senators. Rating: Lean Democrat (Flip)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Inc) vs. Jaime Harrison (D)
Lindsey Graham, who was once a respectable Senator from South Carolina, has fallen under intense scrutiny from Democrats and Independents for his fervent backing of President Trump. In 2014, when Graham last won election, he won by a 17% margin, but this time around, it is a completely different story. Former James Clyburn Staffer and South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison have launched an impressive campaign to unseat the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Many voters are tired of Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, including some Republican voters. The recent Quinnipiac University poll of the Palmetto state found that Harrison and Graham were tied at 48%. A notable part of the crosstabs was that 98% of Democrats support Harrison, but only 92% of Republicans support Lindsey Graham. This leaves room for Lindsey Graham to grow, but it also shows his unpopularity in the state. This campaign is very comparable to the 2018 Texas Senate Race. The energy and fundraising prowess of Harrison is similar to that of Beto O’Rourke, but, similar to Beto, Harrison still must overcome the odds in a Likely Republican Presidential State. Rating: Lean Republican
Sen. David Perdue (R-Inc) vs. Jon Ossoff (D)
If you told most people a few years ago that the Senate race in Georgia would be a toss-up, a lot of people would have thought you were a little crazy. Soon after the 2016 election, Ossoff ran in a special election to run for a House seat in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s district. Although Ossoff would fall to Karen Handel, who lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Lucy McBath in 2018, he certainly made a name for himself in Georgia. So far, Ossoff has proved himself to be a formidable opponent for first-term Senator David Perdue. According to FEC filing reports, Ossoff raised over $4.7 million in the month of August, which is a very impressive amount. Although he raised a huge sum of money, Perdue has over $10 million in the bank, along with a $27 million commitment from the Senate Leadership Fund – a group backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In order for Ossoff to win this race in November, he must turn out votes in Fulton County, home of Atlanta, which voted for Stacey Abrams by almost 200,000 votes in 2018, along with Clarke, Dekalb, and Clayton counties among others. It will be crucial for Ossoff to attempt to swing some of the rural votes, so he would not have to rely so heavily on the cities. If you take a look above, you will see the 2018 Gubernatorial map that had then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp defeat Stacey Abrams by 1.4%. Improving off of this map is not only important for Ossoff in his run for Senate, but also key for Democrats if they wish to win the state in November. Rating: Lean Republican
Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (R) vs. Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D)
Democrats have had eyes on this seat for years now. After Senator Collins voted yes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Democrats raised over $3.7 million to help fund whoever the nominee would be. That money, piled onto the $8.1 million raised in the pre-primary fundraising report, will likely be crucial in one of the more expensive races this cycle. Collins, who has been in office since 1997, is facing her toughest challenge by far. Gideon, a known name in Maine politics, is giving Collins a strong challenge. In a recent poll from Public Policy Polling, it found Collins to be the least popular Senator in the country with a 37% approval rating. When Trump first took office in 2017, the Senator’s approval hovered around 70%. Collins has not helped her case by voting yes on Brett Kavanaugh, and her statement that President Trump “learned his lesson” after Impeachment. In recent polling, it seems as if Mainers want Susan Collins to learn her lesson, as Gideon has led in polls. This race will be close, but this is a Democratic top target, and they will do everything they can to ensure that they are successful. Rating: Lean Democrat (Flip)
Iowa: Joni Ernst (R-Inc.) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D)One of the hotly contested races this year is within the Hawkeye state of Iowa. In terms of Presidential elections, Iowa in 2016 swung Republican, but in 2018, Democrats were victorious in three out of four of the House seats. Ernst has been a staunch defender of the President, as she has sided with him in all major votes. Recently, like many vulnerable Republicans, Ernst has been airing ads that do not mention the President at all. This will continue to be a trend if the President’s poll numbers continue to tumble. Greenfield has run on the message of protecting social security, a program that 647,463 Iowans rely on according to the Social Security Administration. Greenfield accused Senator Ernst of attempting to roll back Social Security for Iowans, citing Ernst’s comments in 2019, when she stated that Social Security changes should be discussed “behind closed doors.” Greenfield has proved to be a strong fundraiser as she brought in $6 million, while Ernsts raked in only $3.6 million. This race will prove to be expensive and one of the closest in the nation this November. Rating: Toss-up