Could Republicans Lose the Senate This Fall? Plus, Some Seriously Good News on a Vaccine
Author: Greg Valliere
April 28, 2020
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S PLUNGING POLLS have prompted near-panic among Republicans, who worry that their control of the Senate is in jeopardy this fall. That would be a very big deal, because the Senate is the firewall — blocking activist legislation that will come from the House, which the Democrats almost certainly will retain.
OUR REVIEW OF THE SENATE RACES indicates that the Democrats have a plausible path but far from a certain path. The math is simple — the Democrats need to pick up four shaky GOP seats while losing only one of their seats, for a net gain of three. That would transform the 53-47 Republican margin to 50-50, a tie that would be broken in favor of Democrats if Joe Biden wins the presidency.
THE KEY RACES: We start with the premise that Doug Jones, a Democrat, will lose his seat in Alabama. That would give the GOP a 54-46 majority, which means the Democrats would have to win the following four states: Colorado, where GOP incumbent Cory Gardner is in serious trouble; Arizona, where incumbent Martha McSalley clearly trails; North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis is essentially tied; and Maine, where Susan Collins trails slightly.
TWO OF THOSE STATES SHOULD BE EASY PICKINGS for the Democrats: the GOP is likely to lose in Colorado, and probably in Arizona as well. But the other two races are too close to call — North Carolina could support Trump again (he won the state by 3.7% in 2016), and Collins is a four-term Senator who leans to the center (although her vote for Brett Kavanaugh has hurt her in Maine).
THE WAVE FACTOR: Just five truly vulnerable incumbents? That’s unusually low, which raises the possibility that an election tidal wave could make a huge difference. In light of Trump’s bizarre comments on ingesting disinfectants — and the disastrous small business loan program — Trump could lose convincingly, which would jeopardize a few more GOP Senate seats, including one in Georgia.
CONVERSELY, BIDEN COULD FLAME OUT and the Democrats might only pick up a seat or two. The former vice president has had a bad week, and it’s only Tuesday.
ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT 27 years ago continue to percolate, with friends of the accuser confirming she was deeply shaken about an alleged incident with Biden. And the Bernie Sanders wing, hardly locked up by Biden, reacted bitterly yesterday when New York cancelled its primary; his supporters want to amass delegates who could challenge the party platform.
BOTTOM LINE: We’ll tweak our odds from a 60-40 chance that the Republicans retain the Senate to 55-45 that they keep the Senate. Everything would have to go exactly right for the Democrats; they would have to gain four seats while losing one in Alabama — and Biden would have to win the presidency to break a tie. It’s not out of the question, and the markets will have to watch carefully; this has major investment implications.
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SOME SERIOUSLY GOOD NEWS ON A VACCINE: Check out the article in this morning’s New York Times on the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, which is “sprinting fastest” to develop a coronovirus vaccine, according to the Times.
TESTS ON MONKEYS have been very encouraging, with human trials set to begin soon. The article says scientists at Oxford believe that if the vaccine proves to be effective, they could have the first few million vaccines available by this September.
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