‘Trump has turned off suburban voters’: Elections expert breaks down how Democrats can win the Senate
Composite image of President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Photos by Gage Skidmore.

Democrats have a "good to very good chance" of winning back the United States Senate in 2020 if they win the White House, an elections expert explained on MSNBC on Thursday.


Prof. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word."

"Where do you see the Democrats with their best chances for the Senate at this point?" O'Donnell asked.

"Certainly Colorado. I would say any Democrat who’s nominated is probably going to be favored against the one-term Republican Sen. Cory Gardner," Sabato replied. "Colorado really tipped into the Democratic column in 2008 and it’s never moved away. It’s become more Democratic."

"Second would be Arizona, which you just mentioned," he continued. "I would say even though it’s close and there’s an appointed Republican incumbent, Martha McSally, she lost the race for the other Senate seat in 2018. She was appointed here. I would give Democrats at least a slight edge there. [Mark] Kelly is a strong nominee."

"Then, of course, you have Alabama. That’s the problem for the Democrats," he said. "Doug Jones won against Roy Moore -- of course, we all remember Roy Moore -- and they may nominate him again, which would be the best thing possible for Democrats and the best thing possible for Doug Jones. Without him, it’s tough to hold that seat."

"But there are others. You just mentioned Georgia. This is important. It’s a double-headed Senate election. We’ve had over a couple dozen of them in the hundred years that we have had elective Senate races and almost always, they go in the same direction," Sabato explained. "You have to go back to 1966 to find one that split. And because we’re so polarized, Lawrence, they almost always go the way of the presidential election."

"So if Democrats can nominate a strong candidate and capitalize on Trump’s relatively low ratings in Georgia, they could get two seats out of this, not just one," he added.

"So Georgia, if they picked up the two, that could really be the key to winning back control of the Senate right there," O'Donnell noted.

"Let’s go to Maine quickly, too, Larry because Susan Collins doesn’t have good numbers in Maine for an incumbent, she's got a 45% approval against a 48% disapproval. The president’s numbers in Maine are bad, 55% disapprove, 42% approval for Donald Trump in Maine," he noted. "How about the Maine Senate race?"

"Absolutely," Sabato replied. "It’s on the map, and it is a potential gain for Democrats, unless, as Susan Collins has before, she can find a path to separate herself from the Republican president without alienating his strong supporters. You know, good luck, this is going to be her toughest race ever, so yeah, that’s another potential pickup and it’s only going to happen if Democrats win the White House and they get vice president, too, to break a tie.

"If you get the Democrats winning the White House, there’s a -- I would say a good to very good chance that the Democrats will surprise a lot of people and take the Senate too," he said.

"And in that case, they will actually have the White House, the Senate, and the House," O'Donnell noted. "They would have real control, something they haven’t had for a while."

"Exactly," Sabato replied.

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