Elections to the US Senate will be held November 6, 2018, with 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested in regular elections and two seats being contested in special elections. The winners will serve six-year terms from January 3, 2019, to January 3, 2025. Currently, Democrats have 26 seats up for election, including the seats of two independents who caucus with them. Republicans have only nine seats up for election. Republicans can only afford to have a net loss of one Senate seat and still have a working majority of 50 Senators and Republican Vice President Mike Pence, who is able to cast a tie-breaking vote in accordance with Article One of the US Constitution. Three of the Republican seats are open as a result of retirements in Tennessee, Utah, and Arizona. Democrats are defending ten seats in states won by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, while Republicans are only defending one seat in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats face the most unfavorable Senate map in 2018 that any party has ever faced in any election (even more so than in the 1980 Senate elections). The current polling shows many competitive races that the Republicans have a slight edge in. As such, it is entirely possible that the Republicans will defy the usual midterm election trend and have a net gain of several Senate seats.
Here is a complete list of the Senate seats up in 2018 and an analysis of the likely results of each race:
One-term Republican Jeff Flake, a Libertarian-aligned Republican and major critic of President Donald Trump, was narrowly elected with ~49% of the vote in 2012. Flake has declared he will retire at the end of his only Senate term due to his dissatisfaction with the direction that the Republican party is going in and the fact that many Republican senators have thus far lacked the backbone to stand up to the destructive aspects of President Trump’s agenda. On the Republican side, Congresswoman Martha McSally won the Republican nomination in a close three-way primary on August 28, 2018, against Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward (two candidates aligned with both President Donald Trump and the Tea Party movement). The Democrats have settled on Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who easily secured the Democratic nomination. Even though previously polling showed Congresswoman Sinema in the lead with between 47 and 51% of the vote, Congresswoman McSally has picked up some momentum over the past week and is now leading by roughly 3-6%. As such, the Arizona Senate race is now considered to be leaning towards the Republican party and will likely remain close until the very end.
Four-term Democrat Dianne Feinstein, first elected in a 1992 Special election and re-elected by large margins in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012, is running for a fifth (and likely final) term in the Senate. Feinstein secured top spot in Calfornia’s June 5 Jungle Primary and will face off against fellow Democrat and California State Senate President Kevin de León, who is running as a somewhat conservative Democrat. Based on the fact that Calfornia is one of the most Democratic states in the country and has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1988, it is likely that Dian Feinstein will win re-election with at least 60% of the vote.
One-term Democrat Chris Murphy, an impassioned advocate for expanded gun control measures and strong supporter of Robert Mueller’s investigations into the crimes committed by the Trump campaign during the 2016 campaign, is running for his second term. Murphy was first elected to the Senate with ~55% of the vote in 2012, matching President Barack Obama’s winning margin in Connecticut in that year’s Presidential election. On the Republican side, businessman Matthew Corey won his parties nomination pretty much unopposed. Based on current polling, Chris Murphy will likely win re-election with between 54-59% of the vote.
Three-term Democrat Tom Carper won re-election with 66% of the vote in 2012. He announced he was running for re-election during an interview on MSNBC on July 24, 2017. He defeated Dover community activist Kerri Evelyn Harris for the Democratic nomination. Sussex County Councilman Robert Arlett won the Republican nomination. Polling shows Tom Carper ahead with roughly 60% of the vote, making Delaware one of the safest Democratic Senate seats this election cycle.
Three-term Democrat Bill Nelson was re-elected with 55% of the vote in 2012. He is seeking re-election to a fourth term in office. On the Republican side, Florida Governor Rick Scott won the Republican nomination. First elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, Scott’s term as Governor of Florida is set to end by January 2019, due to term limits. Edward Janowski is running as an independent candidate in the election as well. Current polling shows Rick Scott ahead by anywhere between 3-6% and as having a much higher level of name recognition than Bill Nelson. As such, Florida is likely one of the Senate seats that the Republican party will pick up this election cycle.
One-term Democrat Mazie Hirono was elected with 63% of the vote in 2012 and is running for re-election. Ron Curtis was selected by the Hawaii Republican party as the nominee for the Senate. Mazie Hirono is well ahead in the polls and looks likely to win re-election in a state that has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1970.
One-term Democrat Joe Donnelly was elected with ~50% of the vote in 2012 and is running for re-election. State Representative Mike Braun won the May 8 Republican primary, defeating Congressman Luke Messer and Todd Riorka by a close margin. Most polling shows a close race but is it is likely that President Donald Trump’s strong approval rating in Indiana, as well as Joe Donnelly’s opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh and liberal positions on social issues in a generally conservative state, will be enough to carry Mike Braun over the top on election day.
One-term Independent Senator Angus King was elected in a three-way race with ~53% of the vote in 2012 and is running for re-election. King has caucused with the Democratic Party since taking office in 2013, but he has left open the possibility of caucusing with the Republican Party in the future. State Senator Eric Brakey ran unopposed for the Republican nomination, whereas Public school teacher and founder of UClass Zak Ringelstein ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The election will be conducted with ranked choice voting, as opposed to “First-past-the-post voting”, after Maine voters passed a citizen referendum approving the change in 2016 and a June 2018 referendum sustaining the change. Despite the fact that President Donald Trump is relatively popular in Maine, Angus King will likely win re-election with approximately 40-45% of the vote due to his strong popularity with independent voters and some Democrats.
Two-term Democrat Ben Cardin was re-elected with 56% of the vote in 2012. He won the Democratic primary unopposed. Tony Campbell won the Republican nomination in a four-way race. Other candidates include Libertarian Arvin Vohra and Independent Neal Simon. Based on current polling, Ben Carin should easily win re-election with over 60% of the vote due to the declining popularity of President Donald Trump in Maryland and his own popularity and reputation as a moderate Democrat.
One-term Democrat Elizabeth Warren was elected with 54% of the vote in 2012 and is running for a second term. State Representative Geoff Diehl won the Republican nomination in a three-way race. Current polling shows Elizabeth Warren well ahead and winning anywhere between 65-75% of the vote, making Massachusetts a Senate seat that is safe for the Democrats.
Three-term Democrat Debbie Stabenow was re-elected with 59% of the vote in 2012. She was renominated without Democratic opposition. On the Republican side, businessman John James was nominated. Independent candidate Marcia Squier is also running. Even though President Donald Trump narrowly won Michigan in the 2016 election and still remains somewhat popular in the state, John James thus far has run a lackluster campaign and will likely lose by a high single-low or double-digit margin.
Two-term Democrat Amy Klobuchar was re-elected with 65% of the vote in 2012. She is running for a third term. State Representative Jim Newberger was nominated by the Republican party. Even though Minnesota is trending towards the Republican party at the national level (and will likely vote for President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020), Amy Klobuchar is a popular incumbent and will likely win by a 15-20% margin.
Minnesota (Special) Election:
Two-term Democrat Al Franken announced that he would resign in December 2017, following allegations of sexual harassment. Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on January 2, 2018, as an interim Senator until the November 2018 election. She defeated primary challenger Richard Painter in the Democratic primary held on August 14. Incumbent Tina Smith is running against Republican Karin Housley in the general election for a full term ending January 3, 2021. Much like with the case of Klobuchar, Tina Smith is a popular incumbent and will win by a 10-15% margin.
One-term Republican Roger Wicker won re-election with 57% of the vote in 2012. He was appointed in 2007 and won a special election in 2008 to serve the remainder of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s term. He is running for re-election to a third term. David Baria won the Democratic nomination in a run-off on June 26. Roger Wicker is currently ahead in the polls and will likely be re-elected with at least 60% of the vote.
Mississippi (Special) Election:
Seven-term Republican Thad Cochran, who won re-election with ~60% of the vote in 2014, announced that he would resign April 1, 2018, due to health reasons. Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi, announced on March 21, 2018, that he would appoint Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill the vacancy. She will be running in the special election. Former US Secretary of Agriculture and Congressman Mike Espy is the Democratic nominee. Tea Party Republican Chris McDaniel is also running. Based on current polling, the Mississippi Senate race will likely go to a run-off due to the fact that no candidate is polling with 50% or more of the vote. Based on the fact that run-off elections in the South usually result in low turnout amongst Democratic voters, it is likely that Cindy Hyde-Smith will prevail with ~52-53% of the vote to serve the remainder of the Senate term.
Two-term Democrat Claire McCaskill was re-elected with ~55% of the vote in 2012. She was renominated for a third term after defeating several weak challengers. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley won the Republican nomination, defeating Libertarian Republican Austin Peterson and Alt-Right candidate Courtland Stykes. Current polling shows a relatively tight race, with both McCaskill and Hawley leading at various point in the race. Based on Missouri’s strong Republican lean (it voted for President Donald Trump by over 20% in 2016), as well as the fact that Claire McCaskill holds social views far out of the mainstream of most Missouri voters, it is likely that Josh Hawley will defeat her by a 3-6% margin.
Two-term Democrat Jon Tester was re-elected with 49% of the vote in 2012. He won the Democratic nomination in the June 5 primary with no opposition. State Auditor Matthew Rosendale won the Republican nomination in the June 5 primary. State Senator Albert Olszewski, former judge Russell Fagg, and Troy Downing also ran for the Republican nomination. Polling shows a very tight race between Tester and Rosendale, with both candidates statistically tied. The Montana Senate race will likely come down to the wire on election day and as such, there are no clear indications as of yet who will merge victorious.
One-term Republican Deb Fischer was elected with 58% of the vote in 2012. She ran for and won the Republican nomination in the May 15 primary. Lincoln Councilwoman Jane Raybould ran for and won the Democratic nomination in the May 15 primary. Other Democrats who ran include Frank Svoboda, Chris Janicek, and Larry Marvin, who was a candidate in 2008, 2012, and 2014. Based on Nebraska’s strong Republican lean (it has not voted for a Democratic Presidential nominee since 1964), Deb Fischer will easily win re-election with over 65% of the vote.
Incumbent Republican Dean Heller is the Republican nominee. He was appointed to the seat in 2011 and then elected with 46% of the vote in 2012. Heller considered running for governor but chose to seek re-election. Nevada is the only state in the midterm elections that has an incumbent Republican Senator in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Representative Jacky Rosen is the Democratic nominee. Based on the fact that Dean Heller won his first term by a very narrow margin in a state that has consistently trended Democratic since 2008, he will likely lose re-election by anywhere between 1-5%
Republican Bob Hugin was nominated to face two-term Democrat Bob Menendez, who was re-elected with 59% of the vote in 2012. Menendez was originally appointed to the seat in January 2006 by then-New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. He is running for a third term. New Jersey represents one of several pick-up opportunities for the Republicans in 2018, as Bob Menendez is not a particularly strong candidate and is still perceived as a corrupt politician despite the fact that he was cleared of all criminal charges in a widely-publicized trial last year. Additionally, President Donald Trump remains somewhat popular in parts of New Jersey such as Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, and Cape May counties, all areas that have high populations and high voter turnout in midterm elections. Current polling shows Hugin leading anywhere by 1-5%. As such, New Jersey is likely to flip Republican this election cycle
One-term Democrat Martin Heinrich was elected with 51% of the vote in 2012. He is running for re-election. Mick Rich won the Republican nomination unopposed. Aubrey Dunn Jr., New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands and otherwise the first Libertarian to ever hold statewide elected office in history, announced his run for the seat but stepped aside in August to allow former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson’s candidacy. Current polling shows Martin Heinrich ahead with ~55% of the vote in this heavily Democratic state, and Libertarian Gary Johnson in second place. Based on his strong polling numbers, Martin Heinrich will likely win re-election without too much difficulty.
Up for re-election is One-term Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who was elected with 72% of the vote in 2012. She had previously been appointed to the seat by then-New York Governor David Patterson in 2009 to fill the seat held by Hillary Clinton prior to her appointment as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration and won a special election for the remainder of the term in 2010. Private equity executive Chele Chiavacci Farley has been nominated for the Senate by both the Republican and Conservative Parties, which often runs fusion candidates in New York. Kirsten Gillibrand is currently leading Chele Chiavacci Farely by 32% in the most recent poll of the race and is likely to cruise to re-election by an overwhelming margin
One-term Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was elected with 50% of the vote in 2012. She won the Democratic nomination unopposed. Congressman Kevin Cramer won the Republican nomination in the June 12 primary, defeating several minor candidates. Even though Heidi Heitkamp was previously thought to have a strong chance to be elected to a second term due to the fact that North Dakota has a recent history of voting for Democratic candidates at the Congressional level, Congressman Cramer has closed the gap in recent weeks and is leading by anywhere between 6-12% The main factors explaining Congressman Cramer’s newfound lead is the fact that Heitkamp was vocal in her opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, as well as the fact that President Donald Trump remains extremely popular in North Dakota. Based on these factors, North Dakota is widely expected to be a Republican gain.
Two-term Democrat Sherrod Brown was re-elected with 51% of the vote in 2012. He is running and was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Congressman Jim Renacci ran for and won the Republican nomination in the May 8 primary. Other Republicans who ran include investment banker Michael Gibbons, businesswoman Melissa Ackison, Dan Kiley, and Don Elijah Eckhart. Even though Ohio is rapidly trending towards the Republican party, as well as the fact that President Donald Trump has a relatively high (54%) approval rating in the state overall, Congressman Renacci has consistently been behind in the polls by anywhere from 4-18% depending on the pollster. As such, Senator Brown will likely defy the trends of his state and win re-election.
Two-term Democrat Bob Casey Jr. was re-elected with 54% of the vote in 2012. He is running and won the Democratic primary unopposed. Congressman Lou Barletta ran for and won the Republican nomination in the May 15 primary. Even though Pennsylvania is trending towards the Republican party due to an aging population and declining population in cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Bob Casey is likely to win re-election by a 10% margin. The main reasons why Bob Casey is likely to win a third Senate term is because Congressman Barletta has thus far run a lackluster campaign, as well as the fact that Bob Casey is a relatively moderate Democrat regarding social issues and has solely focused his campaign on economic issues pertinent to Pennsylvania voters.
Two-term Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse was re-elected with 64% of the vote in 2012. He is running for a third term. Former Rhode Island Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Flanders is the Republican nominee. Even though President Donald Trump performed relatively decent for a Republican in Rhode Island, as well as the fact that the Republicans are likely to win the Rhode Island gubernatorial election this year, Sheldon Whitehouse has led by commanding margins in all pre-election polls and looks likely to win a third Senate term.
Two-term Republican Bob Corker was re-elected with 65% of the vote in 2012. announced his intentions to run for re-election as early as 2016 but changed his mind and announced his intent to retire in September of 2017. Generally a “moderate Republican” in terms of his political views, Senator Corker stated that the main reason he decided to retire is due to his opposition to many of the policies of President Donald Trump and the fact that the Republican party is shifting away from its past values of traditional conservatism to a platform aligned with the far-right. Ultra-conservative Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn easily won the Republican nomination, whereas former governor (2003-2011), whereas former Tennessee governor (2003-11) Phil Bredesen won the Democratic nomination.
Even though polls earlier in the year have shown former Governor Bredesen leading by as much as 10%, the race has considerably tightened in recent weeks, with Congresswoman Blackburn now holding a 14% lead in the polls. Several factors have resulted in the Tennessee Senate race becoming less competitive. One such factor is the fact that Tennessee has rapidly trended towards the Republican party since 2010 due to the defeat or retirement of many of the more conservative Democrats who dominated in the Applacian and Ozarks regions of the country, the increasingly socially liberal positions of the Democratic party as a whole, and changes in the demographics of the state. Additionally, President Donald Trump won Tennessee by a resounding margin in 2016 (and is likely to improve on his already large victory margin when he runs for re-election in 2020) and has campaigned heavily for Congresswoman Blackburn in recent weeks. As such, it is likely that the Republicans will hold the Tennessee Senate seat by anywhere from a 10-15% margin.
One-term Republican Ted Cruz was elected with ~55% of the vote in 2012, slightly underperforming Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Texas. Ted Cruz overwhelmingly won the Republican primary on March 6, 2018, defeating TV producer Bruce Jacobson, Houston energy attorney Stefano de Stefano, former mayor of La Marque Geraldine Sam, Mary Miller, and Thomas Dillingham. On the Democratic side, Congressman Beto O’Rourke won the Democratic nomination on March 6, 2018, by a large margin.
Texas represents a surprisingly strong pick-up opportunity for the Democratic party. The main reason why the Texas Senate race is competitive is that Texas is rapidly trending towards the Democratic party. Historically, Texas was one of the first Southern states to trend towards the Republicans during the 1950s and as recently as 2004, voted Republican by an almost 25% margin. In recent years, however, Texas has swung towards the Democratic party, with Hillary Clinton only losing by a 7-8% margin in 2016. Additionally, Ted Cruz is one of the most unpopular Senators currently in office due to his aggressive, partisan tactics, as well as a volatile personality. On the other hand, Congressman O’Rourke has run a positive, issue-focused campaign and represents a fresh face for a rapidly changing electorate in a traditionally conservative state. As such, Congressman O’Rourke is likely to narrowly win the Texas Senate race this year.
Seven-term Republican Orrin Hatch was re-elected with 65% of the vote in 2012. Hatch is the President pro tempore of the United States Senate, as well as the second-most-senior Senator. Before the 2012 election, Hatch said that he would retire at the end of his seventh term if he was re-elected. Hatch initially announced his re-election campaign on March 9, 2017, but later announced his plans to retire on January 2, 2018. Former 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is running for the seat. Professor James Singer was running for the Democratic nomination, but he dropped out and endorsed Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, who made her Senate bid official on July 17, 2017. Even though the Democratic party felt that the Utah Senate race had the potential to become competitive due to President Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the state, Mitt Romney has thus far run a very strong campaign and attempted to frame himself as a “Never Trump” Republican who is unafraid of breaking away from the President on certain issues. As such, the Utah Senate race should end up in a strong Republican victory.
Two-term Independent Senator Bernie Sanders was re-elected with 71% of the vote in 2012. Sanders, one of two independent members of Congress, has caucused with the Democratic Party since taking office in 2007. In November 2015, Sanders announced his plans to run as a Democrat, rather than an Independent, in all future elections. He won the nomination easily. The Vermont Republican party nominated Lawrence Zupan, an obscure candidate that does not even have a legitimate campaign website. Based on his strong popularity and extremely weak opponent, Bernie Sanders is expected by be re-elected with anywhere between 75-80% of the vote.
One-term Democratic Senator and Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016 Tim Kaine was elected with 53% of the vote in 2012. He was re-nominated unopposed. Prince William County Supervisor and prominent “Alt-Right” political leader Corey Stewart is the Republican nominee. Matt Waters is the Libertarian nominee. Based on the fact that Virginia is a state that has been trending towards the Democratic party at a high rate since at least 2004, as well as the fact that President Donald Trump is highly unpopular in the Virginia overall (his disapproval rating in the state is a whopping 73%), Tim Kaine is likely to win re-election with anywhere between 55-60% of the vote.
Three-term Democrat Maria Cantwell was re-elected with 61% of the vote in 2012. She is running for a fourth term. Much like California, Washington holds non-partisan blanket primaries, in which the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of party. Cantwell and former state Republican Party chair Susan Hutchison are facing each other in November. Based on current polling, Maria Cantwell is widely expected to cruise to re-election by at least 16%.
One-term conservative Democrat Joe Manchin was elected with 61% of the vote in 2012. He originally won the seat in a 2010 special election. Manchin is running for re-election and won the May 8 Democratic primary. Environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin also ran for the Democratic nomination. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey received the Republican nomination in the May 8 primary. Congressman Evan Jenkins, coal miner Bo Copley, Jack Newbrough, Don Blankenship, and Tom Willis ran for the Republican nomination. Even though West Virginia was President Donald Trump’s second-best state in the 2016 Presidential Election and is overwhelming Republican in terms of voting, Patrick Morrisey has been struggling in the polls, with Senator Manchin leading him by anywhere from 4-8%. As such, West Virginia is likely a lost cause of the Republicans this election cycle. Despite the fact that Joe Manchin is favored to win re-election, there is a possibility that he will end us switching over to the Republican party due to his support for much of President Donald Trump’s agenda, as well as differences with the Democratic party leadership on issues such as abortion, LGBT rights, gun control, and environmental policy.
One-term Democrat Tammy Baldwin was elected with 51% of the vote in 2012. She is running for a second term. State Senator Leah Vukmir and businessman and member of Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs Kevin Nicholson ran for the Republican nomination, with Vukmir proceeding to win. Even though President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 and is poised to do so again in 2020, Leah Vukmir has thus far run an extremely poor campaign. As such, Senator Baldwin will likely win re-election by at least 20%.
One-term Republican John Barrasso was elected with 76% of the vote in 2012. Barrasso was appointed to the seat in 2007 and won a special election in 2008. He is running for a second full term. 59-year-old Gary Trauner, a Jackson Hole businessman and Congressional candidate in 2006 and 2008, is the Democratic nominee. Considering that Wyoming was President Donald Trump’s best state in 2016, as well as the fact that the last time a Democrat won a statewide election in Wyoming was in 2006, Senator Barrasso will likely win re-election with at least 70% of the vote.