5 Crucial Campaigns To Flip The Senate That Deserve Your Attention

While the focus has been on a few major races, polling indicates Democrats are within striking distance of flipping these Senate seats.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ/Creative Commons)

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ/Creative Commons)

By now you’re likely familiar with the four high-profile Senate seats that Democrats hope to flip in November. These include seats in Colorado, Arizona, Maine, and North Carolina where polling indicates Democrats are running with a strong lead against Republican incumbents. With weeks until the election, there are plenty of campaigns competing for your dollars and your attention in a barrage of text messages, competing yard signs, and on social media. Which ones are the best investment if you want to help flip the Senate in November?

While Republicans have the chance to challenge a few seats of their own, their opportunities for maintaining a strong Republican Senate majority are virtually non-existent. With the exception of Doug Jones in Alabama and Peters in Michigan, most Democrat incumbent senators are sitting on comfortable margins in the current polls. And there are far fewer Democratic Senate seats up for grabs in 2020 with just 12 Democrats facing re-election bids compared to 23 Republicans.

That leaves a slew of Republican Senate seats on the table in 2020, and there is a tidy handful where Trump’s unpopularity, the flailing economy, and the mishandling of the pandemic have allowed Democrats to erode incumbent leads in reliably red states. Let’s take a look at how you can help campaigns in the five most competitive toss-up races where Democrats could flip the Senate and cement a clear majority.

1. Montana

The Candidates

Democrat Steve Bullock, who is currently serving as Montana’s governor, is facing off against Republican incumbent Steve Daines. Bullock has formidable fundraising numbers, but the popularity of his coronavirus response as governor could either help or hurt his candidacy. Daines has championed saving public lands in his tenure in the Senate and largely avoided controversy.

The Polling

While Montana is reliably red on the electoral map in presidential elections, Democrats like Bullock have gained popularity at the state and local levels in recent years. Current polling places Daines up anywhere from 2 to 6 points and Cook Political, who initially categorized this race as Lean Republican, now says the race is a toss-up.

How You Can Help

Text BULLOCK to 30200 to get updates directly from the campaign about what they need and how you can get involved or simply get one of Steve’s infamous Dad jokes sent to you daily. You can also visit Bullock’s website to donate or volunteer directly at stevebullock.com.

Unprecedented voter turnout in Montana was a huge factor in 2018 and there are several organizations working to make sure 2020 exceeds those expectations. Check out forwardmontana.org or swingleft.org to learn more.

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2. Kansas

The Candidates

Roger Marshall, currently serving as a congressional representative for Kansas in the US House, is angling to fill the vacancy left by retiring Republican senator Pat Roberts. Marshall is known as a climate change skeptic and a supporter of Donald Trump. Although he is an obstetrician by profession, Marshall has promoted distrust of the CDC through coronavirus conspiracy theories on social media. His opponent, Barbara Bollier, is also a physician and a former Republican who left the party in 2018. She currently serves the 7th district in the Kansas State Senate.

The Polling

Democrats would have enjoyed an easier path to victory if Kobach had secured the Republican nomination, but Marshall is still showing signs of vulnerability in recent polling. August polling indicates Bollier is within 1-2% of Marshall, well within the margin of error. Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932 and Cook Political still rates this race as Leans Republican rather than a toss-up.

How You Can Help

Text JOIN to 94200 to get updates directly from Boiller’s campaign on what they need and how you can help, whether that’s volunteering or donating. You can also visit Boiller’s website at bollierforkansas.com and amplify messages from her campaign on Twitter at @BarbaraBollier.

Voter turnout appears to be on track for record highs in 2020, with Kansas already counting nearly triple the number of early ballots as they received in 2016 by this time. If you want to learn how you can help Kansas voters cast their ballots in this historic election, contact letpeoplevotekansas.org or swingleft.org to learn more.

3. Iowa

The Candidates

Joni Ernst, a Republican incumbent who has strongly supported Trump, is looking to hold off a challenge this fall from Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield, who is described as a farm kid and a military mom, wants to expand the Affordable Care Act and is largely viewed as a centrist. Ernst, however, has come under fire for her recent efforts to downplay the coronavirus and question the CDC’s death count.

The Polling

Recent polling shows Greenfield with a 2-3% lead, although Ernst had a similar lead in polling from late July and early August. Cook Political, who once categorized the Iowa Senate race as Lean Republican, moved it to a toss-up in July.

How You Can Help

You can sign up to volunteer or donate at Theresa Greenfield’s website greenfieldforiowa.com or follow her on Twitter to amplify campaign messages at @GreenfieldIowa. The race has seen a flood of outside money on both sides, setting records for fundraising.

Getting student voter turnout has been a cornerstone of the effort for Democrats, and Iowa State is ranked nationally for high levels of political engagement. To help work on voter turnout and registration in Iowa, you can explore organizations like nextgenamerica.org or swingleft.org.

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4. South Carolina

The Candidates

Perhaps one of the most hotly contested races is to flip the Senate seat in South Carolina where long-time incumbent and Trump sycophant Lindsey Graham faces off against Jaime Harrison. Harrison is a former lobbyist and an associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his platform highlights expanding Medicaid.

The Polling

Throughout the summer, polling reflected Graham with a slim 1-4% lead over Harrison. However recent polls indicate that lead has narrowed and the candidates may be in a virtual dead heat. Cook Political and Sabato’s Crystal Ball both still rate this race as Leans Republican.

How You Can Help

You can text JOIN to 43100 to get updates directly from the Harrison campaign and visit the website jaimeharrison.com to volunteer or contribute. Harrison has been smashing Graham’s fundraising totals month after month, but every little bit helps.

A recent victory in the South Carolina legislature has allowed all South Carolina voters to vote by absentee ballot due to the pandemic, but an unprecedented shortage of poll workers in the June primary spells trouble for the state. If you live in South Carolina, you can volunteer to be a poll hero at pollhero.org. You can also sign up at swingleft.org to learn more about how to help efforts on the ground in South Carolina.

5. Georgia

The Candidates

Per usual, Georgia is shaping up to be a hot mess and the race to flip Georgia’s Senate seat is no exception. Both Senate seats are up for grabs, but only one is considered competitive. That’s the seat belonging to incumbent David Perdue, a former businessman who is said to be a close ally of Donald Trump’s. He’s running against Jon Ossoff, a congressional candidate who failed to win a seat for Dems in a 2017 special election.

The Polling

Initially, it looked like Loeffler, who is running for Georgia’s other Senate seat, might be in trouble. But recent polling shows the Purdue/Ossoff race is narrowing and presents a better opportunity to flip the seat. Recent polling throughout August has oscillated between Purdue or Ossoff leading by a slim margin of 1-4%. Cook Political moved the race to a toss-up in late July, although Sabato’s Crystal Ball still indicates this race leans Republican.

How You Can Help

Text VOTE to 5105 to get updates directly from Ossoff’s campaign on how you can help or visit his website at electjon.com to explore volunteer and contribution opportunities. Sister District is also working hard on the ground in Georgia to combat rampant voter suppression by Trump ally and Georgia governor Brian Kemp. You can also sign up for updates from Stacy Abram’s organization Fair Fight to see how you can help every vote count.

Other Races to Watch

It’s worth noting that there are a few other longshot opportunities to flip Senate seats that we should pay attention to, specifically in Alaska. Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan is facing a serious challenge from an independent Al Gross who is backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Recent polling indicates the Alaskan Senate candidates are in a dead heat although both Sabato and Cook Political still rate the race as Likely Republican. Independents often perform well in Alaska and while this wouldn’t put the seat into the hands of a Democratic majority, it would still remove it from Republican control.

While turning the Lonestar State blue has always been a longshot, numbers in the Texas Senate race are tightening between Republican incumbent John Cornyn and MJ Hegar. While Cornyn enjoyed a double-digit lead earlier in the year, that support seems to have eroded significantly in recent weeks and placed Hegar within striking distance. Democrats definitely sense blood in the water in a state where an abysmal lack of Republican leadership has lead to a crippling coronavirus crisis, so they’ve poured money into Hegar’s campaign.

The Rantt Rundown

In order to flip control of the Senate, Democrats will need to turn at least four seats blue because Doug Jones is almost certain to lose his seat to Republican challenger and college football coach Tommy Tuberville. Currently, the forecast for Democratic control of the Senate looks strong but relies almost entirely on producing the same blue wave turnout of 2018 in the midst of a pandemic and upheaval at the USPS.

Still, Democratic requests for absentee ballots have far outpaced Republicans in swing states and legal battles have largely been decided in favor of Democrats. While some states continue to place unreasonable restrictions on voting by mail, for the first time it’s expected that the majority of Americans will cast their ballots at the mailbox. And hopefully, end 2020 by handing a resounding victory for democracy from sea to shining sea.

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Opinion // 2020 / Elections / Republican Party / Senate