The 2018 midterms will be the Democrats’ first big chance’ first big chance to see if the unpopular Donald Trump presidency can tank the Republican Party as a whole. Before 2017, the idea that Democrats could potentially take over the Senate during the next election seemed pretty impossible — especially with so many Democratic seats up for grabs. Now, a flip could very well happen.
According to the New York Times, before last month’s special election flipped Alabama’s red seat blue, “Democrats needed three states to flip control of the Senate, but they entered the cycle defending 25 seats (two of them independents) to the G.O.P.’s eight. Of those Democratic seats, a staggering 10 of them were in states that chose Donald J. Trump for president, including five that he carried by at least 18 percentage points.”
With most of the Democratic seats now looking much less vulnerable — and a number of Republican incumbents choosing not to run — there’s a real path to a blue chamber after the midterms. Here are five races to watch closely in the coming year.
Of all of the Democrats up for reelection, the GOP sees Senator Claire McCaskill as the most vulnerable. She squeaked out a surprise reelection win in 2012, riding the coattails of President Barack Obama’s second term victory. And McCaskill’s painfully clueless Republican challenger didn’t hurt her chances either. Todd Akin tried to argue that you can’t get pregnant after sexual assault, so there was no reason to have rape exceptions in abortion bills.
This year, there won’t be a presidential race on the ticket to bring voters out, and both the establishment and Tea Party GOP support her likely Republican challenger, Attorney General Josh Hawley, making him far less likely to put his foot in his mouth on the trail.
President Trump was the solid winner in 2016, so the question becomes whether this could be the one state where White House support might actually help the Republicans take out a Democratic incumbent. With…