Dem 46
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GOP 54
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  • Strongly Dem (41)
  • Likely Dem (3)
  • Barely Dem (2)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (2)
  • Likely GOP (1)
  • Strongly GOP (51)
  • No Senate race
New polls:  
Dem pickups : (None)
GOP pickups : (None)

The current breakdown of the Senate is as follows:

  • 10 Democratic seats up for reelection in 2016 and 36 seats not up, for a total of 46 seats
  • 24 Republican seats up for reelection in 2016 and 30 seats not up, for a total of 54 seats

In a reversal from 2014, the Democrats will be playing offense, trying to pick up at least five seats (or four seats and the vice-presidency) in order to reclaim control of the Senate. As they do so, there are several pieces of good news for them:

  • The party has had enormous success this year in recruiting top candidates, not only in states where the Democrats' chances are excellent, but also in states where their chances are only middling. By contrast, outside of Nevada, the Republicans have struck out with their preferred candidates.
  • There is only one Democratic-held seat that is presently in play (Nevada), and one other that could conceivably join the list (Colorado). In contrast, as many as 16 Republican-held seats are or could be in play, with at least six of those being in significant danger (Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire, in roughly that order).
  • The Republicans are defending so many seats, and in so many expensive states, that they will almost certainly be compelled to do some triage after primary season and to declare some races to be lost causes.
  • Presidential election years generally favor the Democrats, as they bring more voters to the polls, especially minorities, young people, and single women.
  • Hillary Clinton, if she is indeed the Democratic nominee, may prove to have unusually large coattails. As a woman, she could attract female voters to the polls. As a former Arkansas first lady, she could impact Florida or Missouri or Arkansas in a way that John Kerry and Barack Obama could not.

The news is not all bad for the Republicans, however:

  • The 2016 election is not a total mirror image of 2014. In that election, the Democrats' "in play" seats were in very red states like Alaska and Montana. This year, the Republicans' "in play" seats are largely in purple or light blue states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, and North Carolina. In other words, the Republicans have an easier position to defend in 2016 than the Democrats did in 2014.
  • The Tea Party's influence appears to be waning, in part due to changes in the economic climate, and in part due to a series of embarrassing electoral defeats. Compared to 2012 and 2014, it is much less likely (albeit not impossible) that the Republicans will blow a competitive race by nominating someone like Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, or Sharron Angle.
  • Even if they lose control of the Senate next year, the 2018 map will once again favor the Republicans, as the Democrats will be defending 23 seats in a nonpresidential year, including those in the red (or reddish) states of Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. Should they wish to secure control of the Senate until the next presidential election, the Democrats will likely need a net gain of eight or nine seats this year—a very tall order.

The Democratic-held seats are listed first below, in alphabetical order by state, with the Republican ones following.

Click on a picture for the candidate's webpage.
Click on a name for the candidate's entry in Wikipedia.
Click on a party (D) or (R) for the state party.

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