I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. The Alabama Senate Race has gotten me thinking of how the midterms might shape up. It’s essentially a law of American politics that the midterms are a referendum on the President’s job performance. With many scandals and low favorability ratings for both Republicans in Congress and President Trump, some Democrats are talking about their admittedly slim chances to reclaim the House and Senate. This is an article about the seats most in danger this upcoming midterm election.
1: Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Flake has never been loved by the Republicans in Arizona. He talked tough in 2012 on a tea party-esque platform, but now also published a book attacking President Trump. He did not like the President at all and has been a critic of him. His primary opponent, Dr. Kelli Ward, has been endorsed by President Trump and has led in nearly every poll since her campaign kickoff. That being said, she is not loved by mainstream Republicans and is decidedly more Trumpian.
Either way, the Democrats will have strong candidates with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who lost her bid to take out John McCain in 2016. Both women are fairly popular and able to reach independents and moderate Republicans. This is the most likely seat to switch.
2: Dean Heller (R-NV)
Heller is caught between a rock and a hard place. Republicans are much more moderate in Nevada than Arizona, the state is more purple-blue than red-purple, and he has angered many Trump Republicans in Nevada by failing to vote against Obamacare repeal efforts. His primary challenger, Danny Tarkanian, has never held elected office. He has run five times, and in four of those times was the Republican nominee. He has wide name recognition due to his father’s basketball coaching success.
Jacky Rosen, a first-term Congresswoman, is the lead Democrat for Senate. Her popularity remains relatively high, despite her inexperience, and appeals to many independents. Regardless of the GOP winner, she will play the anti-Trump card for all that its worth.
3: Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
In 2012, McCaskill was headed for a defeat by Todd Akin before he said that a woman’s body knows the difference between “legitimate rape” versus other types of rape. That proved to be the nail in the coffin to Akin’s Senatorial ambition. In addition to Missouri’s rightward march in the last several years, the Republicans got their second choice: Attorney General John Hawley. Despite the fact he was only elected in 2016, he is young, attractive and has a pitch for building bridges both within the Republican Party and with Democrats.
4: Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Operating under the assumption that Governor Rick Scott challenges Senator Nelson for the seat, this will be a competitive and expensive race. Neither is particularly well-liked, but there is no one that is willing to challenge either candidate. The Governor could be hurt politically based on the relief efforts of Hurricane Irma.
5: Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Despite high popularity and experience leading the state for ten-plus years in one capacity or another, there is no more pro-Trump state than West Virginia, who won the state for more than 40 percent. The Democratic governor, who was just elected, announced that he was switching parties to the GOP. Manchin will have the fight of his political life and it’s not sure who will face him, or if he can even survive it.
BONUS: Upset Watch
It’s not impossible for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to lose. His unfavorables are higher than his favorables and he used up a lot of political capital in the 2016 primary. The Democrats have recruited their top candidate, Rep. Beto O’Rourke. O’Rourke has implemented a Bernie Sanders-style fundraising operation, actually out-raising Cruz in the last filings. In a poll conducted earlier this year, he and Cruz were tied at 30 percent, with 37 percent saying that they were undecided. Few people are familiar with O’Rourke outside of his district, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage for the potential usurper.