Republicans try to maintain power in Senate, Democrats seek to widen majority in House

Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 8:00 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 3, 2020 at 2:08 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Whoever wins the White House will have to work with Congress. The power could shift in both places making it easier -- or more challenging -- to pass important legislation.


Here is the current breakdown in the Senate: Republicans have a 53-45-2 majority. The two independents -- Bernie Sanders and Angus King -- caucus with the Democrats. That means Democrats need a net gain of four seats to retake power. If they can pull it off, it would be the first time in six years.

According to the independent race tracker Cook Political Report, there are two Republican-held seats leaning Democratic: Cory Gardner in Colorado and Martha McSally in Arizona.

There are also seven Republican-held seats listed as toss-ups: Steve Daines in Montana, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, and both Senate seats in Georgia. David Perdue is up after his six-year term, and Kelly Loeffler is in a special election. She was appointed by the governor a year ago.

How is it that these seats -- especially in Georgia and South Carolina -- are in the toss-up column?

“These races are turning on President Trump," said Cook’s Jessica Taylor. "Republican incumbents have been inextricably linked to him. We have seen a hesitancy, up until these past few weeks, to criticize him, to distance themselves from him. And that’s because a lot of these incumbents are truly in between a rock and a hard place.”

Two Democratically-held seats the Republicans are looking to flip are in Alabama and Michigan.

Doug Jones was the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama in 25 years, but he is in a tough fight against Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville.

In Michigan, Republicans are putting in a lot of money into John James’s campaign to try to unseat Democrat Gary Peters.


Here is the current breakdown in the House: Democrats have a 232-197-1 majority. They have been in power for two years.

The Cook Political Report is listing 27 House seats as a toss-up. Seventeen are Republican-held, meaning Democrats could expand their majority.

One seat they’re trying to take back is Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. Democrat Dan Feehan is challenging Republican Jim Hagedorn for the seat Hagedorn turned red two years ago. It was one of just three GOP flips in 2018.

Another seat Democrats are hoping to take is Virginia’s 5th District. Three different congressmen have held the seat the past three terms, and there will be a new one again. Republican Bob Good beat incumbent Denver Riggleman in the primary. He is challenging Democrat Cameron Webb, who is touting his experience working in both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Cook’s David Wasserman explained where he thinks Democrats can make gains.

“In 2018, in the midterms, Democrats flipped a lot of suburbs of really blue metro areas," he said. "This time around, we’re seeing Democrats push into suburbs of smaller cities and more conservative traditionally metro areas.”

There are some Democratic seats that could flip Republican, but the reality is tough for Republicans. They would need a net gain of 21 seats to take back power.

There are two opportunities in Iowa. In the 1st District, freshman Democrat Abby Finkenauer is trying to hold onto the seat she flipped blue two years ago. She is being challenged by a former local news anchor -- Republican Ashley Hinson.

In the 2nd District, seven-term Democratic congressman Dave Loebsack is retiring. Democrat Rita Hart is facing Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who already ran for the seat three times before.

Multimedia Journalist Natalie Grim contributed to this report.

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