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2020 Senate race predictions: What to watch for on Election Tuesday

In order for the Democrats to take control of the Senate, they need to pick up three seats on Tuesday if Biden wins the presidency, or four seats if Biden loses the presidency.

2020 Senate race predictions: What to watch for on Election Tuesday
[Photo: Caleb Perez/Unsplash]
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The 2020 election is one of the most anxiety-ridden, polarized presidential elections in American history. The two candidates couldn’t have more differing views for America, and the ultimate winner will likely have a lasting impact on the average American’s life for decades after the end of their next presidential term. That being said, though the country is anxious to know if Biden or Trump will lead us during the next four years, it’s important to note that their ability to enact their vision for America is dependent largely not just on their own election to office, but which party ends up winning the Senate.

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To put it bluntly to the Democrats out there: Even if Biden can prevail over Trump, don’t expect him to get much done during the next four years if the Republicans manage to retain hold of the Senate. That’s because the president can only enact laws Congress, which is made up of the House and Senate, passes. A Biden win with the Senate majority still in Republicans’ hands will all but ensure no major Democratic or progressive initiatives become law.

Currently, the Senate is controlled by Republicans (the House, on the other hand, is controlled by the Democrats—and is likely to remain so after the 2020 election). Republicans have 53 Senate seats compared to the Democrats’ 47. In order for the Democrats to take control of the Senate, they need to pick up three seats on Tuesday if Biden wins the presidency, or four seats if Biden loses the presidency. The reason the Democrats only need to pick up three seats if Biden wins is that in a 50/50 Senate tie, the vice president—which would be Kamala Harris, if Biden wins—issues the tie-breaking vote.

So, how likely is it that the Democrats win the Senate? Various polls give them good odds, with most predicting the Democrats will gain anywhere from three to seven seats. The Economist Election Modeling, for example, predicts the Dems will end the election with at least 52 seats. Whether this happens or not depends on some specific Senate races. And as The Hill points out, we will likely not know the results of those Senate races for days after the election, considering how close some of those races are.

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So, which races should you keep an eye on? Here are the Senate races The Hill says will likely decide who controls the Senate beginning in January:

  • Arizona: Martha McSally (R), incumbent; Mark Kelly (D), challenger
  • South Carolina: Lindsey Graham (R), incumbent; Jaime Harrison (D), challenger
  • Maine: Susan Collins (R), incumbent; Sara Gideon (D), challenger
  • Georgia: David Perdue (R), incumbent; Jon Ossoff (D), challenger
  • Georgia: Kelly Loeffler (R), incumbent; Doug Collins (R), Raphael Warnock (D), challengers
  • Alabama: Doug Jones (D), incumbent; Tommy Tuberville (R), challenger
  • Iowa: Joni Ernst (R), incumbent; Theresa Greenfield (D), challenger
  • North Carolina: Thom Tillis (R), incumbent; Cal Cunningham (D), challenger

You can find out more about the Senate race odds using various forecasts including those of FiveThirtyEight, 270toWin, and The Cook Political Report.

About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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