Tectonic changes in the electoral landscape for the U.S. Senate have impacted the outlook on whether and how control of the upper chamber might change after next year’s elections.
To retake the majority from Republicans after last year’s midterm wave, Democrat must win a minimum of four net seats and maintain the White House for a tie-breaking vote in the Vice President.
Presently there are five seats that Democrats will be targeting, but it’s still too early to predict whether these will provide enough ammo for them to regain the Senate.
In Illinois, Mark Kirk’s victory was arguably the biggest surprise of his cycle. The state from which the president hails and which gave him the vote twice could flip back to its inherent blueness, though the state now has a Republican governor in Bruce Rauner.
In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson could have a difficult time fending off a challenge from very popular former senator Russ Feingold in this blue state.
Kelly Ayotte’s win in New Hampshire wasn’t so much a surprise given the state’s historical unpredictability. But in presidential cycles, it trends blue, especially when Democrat governors are on the ticket.
Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania is similarly in blue territory and faces a potential challenge from former Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak.
In Nevada, the single best potential pickup for the GOP — which could be the foil for Democrat plans — is Harry Reid’s seat, which he is vacating after his retirement.