Senate seats most likely to flip in 2018

Both political parties look set to turn over seats in the midterm elections.
Sen. Jeff Flake's retirement creates a pickup opportunity for Democrats in Arizona. Photo: Getty Images

As an anti-Republican wave builds, few analysts are predicting that the GOP will maintain control over all three major chambers of government after next year's elections. All eyes are on the Senate, where Democrats' hopes of just maintaining their three-seat minority seemed remote last year. But now it's very much in play, even though Democrats and Independents have to defend 25 seats, while Republicans have to defend only eight. Yet both parties can expect to flip seats in some turbulent battleground states. On Wednesday, CNN predicted these are the most likely to change parties in November.

 

Nevada is most likely to flip. GOP Sen. Dean Heller has been hobbled by flip-flopping on Obamacare, which made him enemies in both parties. The state is increasingly Democrat-friendly: Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016, while Heller squeaked by with a bare majority. An experienced challenger waits in the wings: Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen.

 

Arizona is also a state that's increasingly Democratic, and Jeff Flake's retirement creates an opportunity for the next-most-likely pickup. A GOP civil war could split the vote in the primary and depress turnout: Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment are backing Rep. Martha McSally, while Steve Bannon and the Breitbart acolytes want state Sen. Kelli Ward to take the seat, whom mainstream Republicans believe is unelectable because of her far-right views. The Democrats have already coalesced around Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and have an energized base of minority voters and college-educated suburban women.

 

The inverse is true in Missouri, where Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill represents a state that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Both McConnell and the Bannon wing of the GOP are united behind Attorney General Josh Hawley. "This race will be expensive and brutal," predicts CNN.

 

Indiana is the next-most-likely pickup for Republicans. Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly won the seat in 2012 after GOP rancor split the vote between a Tea Party candidate and longtime incumbent Richard Lugar. But Trump won the state handily, and last year Democratic favorite son Evan Bayh lost the race for Indiana's other Senate seat to the GOP by 12 points.

 
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