In order for Democrats to achieve a majority in the U.S. Senate in November, they will need to flip at least for GOP-held seats while holding onto all of the seats they are defending. And according to a poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Democrats have an advantage in four states with Republican senators: Maine, Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina.
PPP reports that in Maine, Democrat Sara Gideon (who heads the Maine House of Representatives) would defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins 47-43%, while in Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly has a 47-42% advantage over Republican Sen. Martha McSally. PPP also found that in North Carolina, Democrat Cal Cunningham would defeat Sen. Thom Tillis 46-41% — and in Colorado, Democrat John Hickenlooper has a 51-38% advantage over Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
Collins, Gardner and McSally have often been described as three of the most vulnerable GOP senators seeking reelection in 2020. In the past, Collins was quite popular in her state and enjoyed landslide reelection victories. But her popularity has plummeted in Maine in recent years, largely because of her vote in favor of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018.
Being perceived as favorable to President Donald Trump can be a major advantage for incumbents in red states, but in blue states and swing states, it can be a huge disadvantage. Collins, Gardner, McSally and Tillis all voted “not guilty” on the two articles of impeachment that Trump faced in his impeachment trial earlier this year.
“One thing making life harder for both Collins and McSally is Donald Trump’s unpopularity in their states,” PPP notes. “In Maine, only 42% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 56% who disapprove — and in Arizona, only 45% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 51% who disapprove.”
For many years, Arizona was considered a red state. But in 2018, it was evident that it had evolved into a swing state when Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defeated McSally — who ended up in the Senate anyway when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to the seat once held by the late John McCain (and before that, Barry Goldwater). If Kelly defeated McSally in November and took over what was once McCain’s seat, Arizona would have two Democratic senators — which is shocking in light of how Republican-dominated the state was for so long.
PPP reports, “McSally continues to be unpopular, with only 37% of voters approving of the job she’s doing to 46% who disapprove. Meanwhile, Kelly has a good favorability rating with those who know him: 41% see him positively to 29% with a negative opinion.”
If McSally, Collins, Tillis and Gardner lost to Democrats in November and the GOP didn’t flip any Democrat-held seats, the phrase “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell” would become a thing of the past in 2021. However, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is considered vulnerable in deep red Alabama, where Trump is still quite popular.