As Joe Biden duels with President Donald Trump for the White House, national Democrats hope to pull off a 2020 election daily double on Tuesday by not only expanding their majority in the House, but also by winning control of the U.S. Senate.
“You’ve got nine Republican seats that are just teetering on the knife’s edge,” said elections expert Charlie Cook of the battle for the U.S. Senate in 2020, noting a wide range of possibilities in a series of close races.
“You could see Democrats picking up only a seat or two - one end of the spectrum - all the way to Democrats picking up a net gain of seven or eight seats,” Cook told C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’ on Monday.
Democrats would take control of the Senate with a gain of 3 seats - if Joe Biden wins the White House - or 4 seats with a re-election win by President Trump.
The best possible Senate pickups for Democrats include Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina - while Republicans are the favorite only to flip a seat in Alabama.
As for the U.S. House, Republicans would need a net gain of 17 seats in the House to grab the majority back after losing it in 2018, but that’s not even up for discussion among Capitol Hill watchers.
“You are unlikely to see many House Democratic incumbents lose with this environment,” Cook said of the playing field which seems tilted in favor of Democrats.
“They’re almost certain to pick up more seats in the House,” said Norm Ornstein, a veteran political expert with the American Enterprise Institute said in a University of Southern California video round table.
Normally, after netting 41 seats in 2018, it would be expected that Democrats might lose some of those gains.
But so far, that doesn’t seem to be happening to Democrats, something Ornstein labeled ‘striking, given that they won almost all the seats that were questionable in 2018.’
The theme of Congressional elections in 2020 looks much like 2018, in that Republicans find themselves on the defensive in suburban areas, as Democrats targeted seats near Indianapolis, Omaha, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis, New York, and more.
Cook says this election feels to him more like a mid-term ‘wave’ against the President’s party.
“What we’re seeing now is the kind of environment that you have in a really bad year for Republicans,” Cook added, as some forecast a possible double digit gain of House seats for Democrats.
While the race for control of the House is not expected to be a cliffhanger, the battle for the Senate could extend into January - courtesy of the two U.S. Senate races in Georgia.
Georgia has a state election law which requires a runoff among the top two candidates, if no one gets over 50 percent of the vote in the November general election.
A runoff is fully expected in the jungle primary election being used for the seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) - and it’s possible the race involving Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) could also go to a runoff.