By Emma McNamee
As election day draws near, the fight for control of the senate is more pressing than ever. The death of liberal icon and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been fuel to the fire, as well as the subsequent nomination of conservative Amy Coney Barrett to the bench by President Donald Trump.
With only a three-seat lead giving them the majority, the Republican hold over the senate was at stake even before RBG’s death. In the wake of that loss, both parties are facing the battle for the senate in a new context. Democrats are rallying in the hopes that a new left-leading Senate will help put a stop to what has been discussed as a controversial appointment to the Supreme Court, with so little time for a confirmation before the November election. However, Republicans hoping for a conservative leaning Supreme Court have also been a boost to the majority party’s efforts to hold onto the Senate.
As it stands now, the Republicans have twenty-three seats in play, thirteen of which have labeled as potentially competitive races by the Washington Post, compared to the twelve Democrat-held seats, of which only two are considered competitive. Presidential election aside, for Democrats to take the Senate majority, a minimum of four seats would need to flip.
With Senate control now a nationalize fight, here are five races to watch in the 2020 election.
- Alabama: Doug Jones (D) vs. Tommy Tuberville (R)
In one of the most pro-Trump states in the country, Democrat incumbent Doug Jones holds one of the most vulnerable senate seats in this upcoming election. Despite facing a first-time candidate in former Auburn University coach, Tommy Tuberville, Jones’ seat stands in a precarious position. Losing in Alabama could make the Democratic Party’s attempts to take back the senate more challenging.
- Arizona: Martha McSally (R) vs. Mark Kelly (D)
While Arizona has been a historic republican stronghold, recent polls show former astronaut and gun-control activist Mark Kelly (D) leading against opponent and Republican incumbent Martha McSally. Winning Arizona could be a turning point for the state on a partisan level, as recent elections have seen the slow shrinkage of the Republican margin.
- South Carolina: Lindey Graham (R) vs. Jamie Harrison (D)
In a state that hasn’t elected a democrat statewide wince 1996, Jamie Harrison is worth keeping an eye on the race against Republican incumbent and close ally to Trump, Lindsey Graham. A recent poll shows the two opponents almost even in numbers, with Graham pulling in a one-point lead. As of September 28, the main super PAC supporting the election of Democrats to the Senate is preparing to invest millions in South Carolina in the form of a $ 6.5 million ad campaign. These efforts could be a turning point in electing a Democrat in what has historically been a deep-red state and giving three term senator Graham a close race.
- North Carolina: Thom Tillis (R) vs. Cal Cunningham (D)
According to Democratic strategists, North Carolina will be one of the truest toss-up states at both the Senate and Presidential level in this election. Current republican senator Thom Tillis will face former state senator Cal Cunningham, who has been outraising Tillis so far. Tillis narrowly won his first term six years ago, and since then, Democrats in North Carolina have seen major gains, which could make Tillis the underdog trying to hold onto his seat.
- Kentucky: Mitch McConnell (R) vs. Amy McGrath (D)
While this race is not a clear-cut toss-up, it is worth looking into because it features a major player in the Republican Party: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Democrat Amy McGrath has proved more competitive than originally thought by many, with McConnell leading by only five points in a poll from last month, though the gap has since widened. Still, McGrath’s massive fundraising and independent showing has certainly supplied a fight for the Majority Leader.