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This cycle, the strongest political fight is about the majority in the US Senate. Both parties are fighting desperately to have the majority after 2014 elections, and the things are close.

For 2014, according to my calculations, the Democratic Party is still favored to keep the majority by a little margin.

But here is not where the fight for a majority in the US Senate will end, because the cycles of 2016 and 2018 are promising a decent number of seats changing of hands. After 2018 the situation can become more stable. Then surely it is interesting to give a look at the overall picture of the three cycles: 2014, 2016 and 2018.

What party is favored to have the majority in the US Senate after 2018? This is what we can try to answer today.

The biggest political factor that will determine who can keep the majority after 2018 is without doublt the results of the presidential elections of 2016. If it is a good year for the Democratic party, 2018 can become a bad year. If 2016 is a bad year 2018 can become a good year.

At this point I see the Democratic Party, H Clinton, favored in the early polling for 2016. and it seems that the year can be good enough to cause a strong reverse of the senate results of 2010. If this is confirmed, I think the Democratic Party can be favored to have the majority in the senate after 2018.

Then the most likely scenario in these years would be:
-2014: Neutral year with a number of difficult seats to defend.
-2016: Good year with a number of favourable seats to pursue.
-2018: Bad year with a number of difficult seats to defend.

To win the presidential election also helps to keep the majority in the senate because the Vice President and President of the US Senate is also the tiebreaker in case of tie. It means that the winner party needs only 50 senate seats for a majority.

Roughly, for the Democratic party of today, the easier path to keep the majority after 2018 would be:

To have 50 seats + Democratic Vice President as tiebreaker:

-46 senators from the 23 D+ states.
-2 senators from VA (EVEN)
-1 senator from OH (R+1): S Brown
-1 senator from FL (R+2): W Nelson

Minus the seats that the Democratic Party can lose between these 50 options in 2014, 2016 and 2018:

-WI-Sen 2018 : T Baldwin
-FL-Sen 2018: W Nelson
-VA-Sen 2018: T Kaine
-OH-Sen 2018: S Brown
-WI-Sen 2016: R Feingold? (R Johnson)
-IL-Sen 2016: M Obama? (M Kirk)
-PA-Sen 2016: E Rendell? (P Toomey)
-NV-Sen 2018: B Miller? (D Heller)
-NH-Sen 2016: M Hassan? (K Ayotte)
-NV-Sen 2016: H Reid
-IA-Sen 2016: T Vilsack? (C Grassley or Open by R)
-ME-Sen 2014: S Bellows (S Collins)

Plus other seats that the Democratic Party can win in less favourable states in 2014, 2016 and 2018:

-WV-Sen 2018: J Manchin
-AK-Sen 2014: M Begich
-NC-Sen 2014: K Hagan
-LA-Sen 2014: M Landrieu
-AR-Sen 2014: M Pryor
-MO-Sen 2018: C McCaskill
-ND-Sen 2018: H Heitkamp
-IN-Sen 2018: J Donnelly
-MT-Sen 2018: J Tester
-GA-Sen 2014: M Nunn (Open by R)
-KY-Sen 2014: A L Grimes (M McConnell)
-MT-Sen 2014: J Walsh
-AR-Sen 2016: M Beebe? (J Boozman)
-IN-Sen 2016: E Bayh? (D Coats)
-AK-Sen 2016 Open D (L Murkowski)
-FL-Sen 2016: Open D (M Rubio)
-AZ-Sen 2016: G Giffords? (J McCain or Open by R)
-TN-Sen 2018: P Bredesen? (R Corker)
-KY-Sen 2016: S Beshear? (R Paul)
-NC-Sen 2016: Open D (R Burr)
-MO-Sen 2016: J Nixon? (R Blunt)
-OH-Sen 2016: Open D (R Portman)

Note: The 23 D+ states (PVI) are HI, VT, NY, RI, MD, MA, CA, DE, NJ, CT, IL, ME, WA, OR, MI, NM, WI, MN, NV, IA, NH, PA and CO.

Both groups are not symmetrically balanced.

In the group of the most favourable races I only included the races with a potential of becoming a Toss-Up or worse (if there are not retirements). To have retirements in competitive states would be a source of troubles for the Democratic party, like we see this cycle in IA and MI, but, fortunately the current senators in the most competitive states are young enough (including W Nelson and H Reid) to continue, and I would not expect more retirements in competitive seats in these cycles.

In the group of the less favourable cases, I take not only the potential Toss-Up or better cases. In this case I go to Lean R territory with the goal of finding the cases with better potential of gains for the Democratic Party.


WI-Sen 2018: T Baldwin is not specially weak, but her home state was the alone D+ state where a Democratic incumbent (R Feingold) has been deafeated in the last years (in a Republican wave). If the environment of 2018 becomes as hard as in 2010 this race can become a Toss-Up if the strongest Republicans run. At this point her strongest potential challenger can be the current governor S Walker.

FL-Sen 2018: W Nelson proved to be strong in Florida in 2012. The last year only J Bush polled enough well vs W Nelson to make the race a Toss-Up. If the Democratic senator retires not it seems difficult to see him endangered, even in a political environment worse than in 2012. The Republican bench in Florida is long but not too strong, because only a few of them have a statewide profile.

VA-Sen 2018: The Republican bench in Virginia is getting smashed in the last years, and in part thanks to T Kaine. Someone like J Kilgore can make the race competitive, but I'm not sure that he can make the race a Toss-Up.

OH-Sen 2018: S Brown can be challenged again. The Republican bench is stronger in Ohio than in Virginia, but maybe only the term-limited governor J Kasich or a recovered M DeWine can make the race a Toss-Up.

WI-Sen 2016: R Johnson is also very endangered. In the last days we even read about him involved in some scandal. Between the potential challengers R Feingold is polling the strongest, and the race can become easily a rematch. Again, in this race the Democratic Party would be favored (a Lean D situation) but if weaker candidates run in the Democratic side the race can also enter in a Toss-Up situation.

IL-Sen 2016: M Kirk seems one of the most endangered Republican incumbents and will need to run in a unfavourable state in a likely unfavourable environment. Between the potential Democratic challengers according to some polls M Obama would have the best results. More likely candidates like L Madigan are also polling well. Still the race can down to a Toss-Up situation with lower level Democratic challengers.

PA-Sen 2016: The bench of potential challengers for the Republican incumbent P Toomey is very strong, including E Rendell, J Sestak and K Kane, and the Republican incumbent is polling weak. The race is a Toss-Up and it is a  serious chance for another gain in 2016 for the Democratic Party.

NV-Sen 2018: D Heller won in 2012 underperforming M Romney in a state that M Romney lost. He is fairly weak. The strongest potential challenger for him would be the former governor R (Bob) Miller. Running with the best the race would not be worse than a Toss-Up, and even more potential challengers can make it a Toss-Up.

NH-Sen 2016: The prospect of a gain for the Democratic Party is serious here. M Hassan and J Lynch can make this race a Toss-Up. K Ayotte is seriously endangered.

IA-Sen 2016: The race for this seat can be competitive for the first time in decades. T Vilsack, the former governor and current Secretary of Agriculture in Obama's cabinet and H Clinton are putting enough pressure over C Grassley to retire. But even if C Grassley retires not the race can be competitive with T Vilsack.

NV-Sen 2016: This seat can be a lose if H Reid retires. At this point only three politicians can keep B Sandoval out of the senate seat. H Reid, Robert (Bob) Miller, the former Democratic governor, and B Sandoval himself, running for President or for Vice-President in 2016.

ME-Sen 2014: Unfortunately is not being strongly challenged, and I think the Democratic Party can regret it. At this point the race seems a sure lose. My best wishes to S Bellows.

In a best case scenario, this group of races can end with only ME-Sen 2014 in the minus side. In a worst case scenario, that seems not likely, it can be 12. The best case scenario seems more likely. At this point only 7 of these seats are in Republican hands.

WV-Sen 2018: Despite WV is becoming a difficult state, the Republican bench is so short. WV-Sen 2014 (Open by D) and WV-Gov 2016 (Open by D) are making this bench shorter. Still some serious candidate can be ready for this race. I think the Republicans will fight the race like they are fighting every race in R+ territory. But it seems the easier option of the group at this point.

AK-Sen 2014: M Begich, the young Democratic senator from AK, is becoming surprisingly resistant to the Republican challenge. At this point my rating gives Lean D to this race. But still there he will need to fight very much until november.

NC-Sen 2014: There is a tough outside campaign since the begin of the cycle against K Hagan. Until now this campaign of outside money has not been enough contested. I hope it changes, and with a more balanced spending this race can be a pure Toss-Up until the end, just like NC was in the lasts presidential campaigns.

LA-Sen 2014:  M Landrieu also is being strong enough to keep the race very competitive. She is also in Toss-Up in my numerical rating. The electoral system of LA with the run-offs and the need to come very close to a 50% in order to win the seat, makes she needs an aditional effort, but at this point it seems that she can do it.

AR-Sen 2014: The race is a Toss-Up at this point in my rating chart. M Pryor is in a difficult situation, but some people is assuming that the race is lost and this is not rigth. It will be necessary to fight very hard to keep the seat, but also it will be necessary to fight very hard to to defeat the incumbent.

MO-Sen 2018: In 2012 C McCaskill proved to be a smart woman and it is not easy to defeat her despite to be not the most popular politician. Her chance for the re-election will depend of how bad can be the environment in 2018. The bench of potential candidates that have the Republicans is enough to make the race competitive.

ND-Sen 2018: H Heitkamp is the firts of the group of Democratic senators that win in 2012 in R+ states by narrow margin. No doubt. This will be a difficult race. The environment in 2018 can be worse than in 2012 but the they will be incumbents. Surely the best case that we can expect is a AK-Sen 2014 situation with M Begich stronger than expected. The bench of Republicans in ND is so big and strong thanks to a good number of statewide elected offices in Republican hands. E Schafer can be the strongest of them.

IN-Sen 2018: Again the same history for J Donnelly but in a little more favourable state. Indiana is the kind of state where an incumbent not unpopular cand defend himself. The most likely situation would be a Toss-Up race. Also the Republican bench is so strong in Indiana with M Daniels as the most difficult potential challenger for J Donnelly.

MT-Sen 2018: J Tester is not in his firts term but after two narrow dictories, this race can go by the same way also in 2018. The situation can be very close to the previous cases (MO, ND or IN). It would be a Toss-Up if the Republicans have a decent candidate. The Republican bench in Montana is the shortest of the states in this situation, but they also have the strongest potential challenger in all these states with M Racicot, who can be favored over J Tester.

GA-Sen 2014: The race for the Open by R seat is becoming competitive thanks to the efforts of M Nunn. I would not tell that she is favored. The race is rated as Lean R in my rating chart, but the Republicans have a so unpredictable situation here. Still GA is a state where they win habitually in the statewide elections of the last years.

KY-Sen 2014: The Republican leader in the Senate, M McConnell is showing weakness to win in his home state. He has a serious primary challenge (in 2010 the Republican stablishment lost the primary vs the Tea Party style candidate) and also has a serious challenger from the Democratic side. Again I would not tell A L Grimes is favored, the race is rated as LeR in my rating chart, but this race can be a big headache for the Republican stablishment all the year.

MT-Sen 2014: The last Democratic incumbent, and surely the most endangered, J Walsh, has a serious challenger this year, and until now he seems not favored in the race. Again this race is rated as Lean R in my rating chart but with worse numbers than GA-Sen 2014 and KY-Sen 2014. J Walsh is also the alone Democratic incumbent that is not leading the fundraising side of the race.

AR-Sen 2016: At this point surely only M Beebe can endanger the re-election of the Republican senator J Boozman. We know not exactly if M Beebe is popular enough to defeat him, but I would not rule out it. Also H Clinton running for President can help to the Democratic prospect in this race.

IN-Sen 2016: This is another seat that can be endangered for the Republicans if a strong Democratic challenger emerges. D Coats seems not too strong, but habitually a Republican is favored in Indiana. Until now, the strongest Democratic challenger in Indiana seems the former senator E Bayh, despite to be unpopular in other places.

AK-Sen 2016: The last election for this seat makes see all the weakness of L Murkowski in a Republican primary in her home state. It is possible to see another similar situation in 2016. The race at this point is so unpredictable and L Murkowski can even switch party. In the last years, M Begich proved that a success of the Democratic party is possible. After him, Clark Gruening is the former candidate to high level elections with better performance in his last race.

FL-Sen 2016: M Rubio is flirting (too much) with a bid for president in the year when he should run for reelection. At this point the chance of an open seat seem low, but M Rubio is weak enough to be considered a good goal for 2016. The Democratic bench in Florida is not too strong. In the last years the strongest Democrat (after W Nelson and C Christ) running for high level office was B Castor. A Sink, considered one of the strongest potential challenger lost recently a race of a lot lower level.  

AZ-Sen 2016: The first polling numbers are showing J McCain very weak. G Giffords is performing the best between the potential Democratic candidates, leading over him, in a situation that can be a Toss-Up. In states like Arizona it is not easy ton know if is better to have a dammaged incumbent or to have an open seat.

TN-Sen 2018: The weakness of B Corker and the strength of the Democratic former governor P Bredesen can give to the Democratic Party some chance for this seat in 2018. The environment will be worse than in 2012, but still maybe possible to bid. If P Bredesen rule out a bid, the chance of the Democratic party decreases strongly.

KY-Sen 2016: Again a popular Democratic politician can create some trouble to a Republican senator, in this case R Paul. As in the case of M Rubio, I think not that this seat will be open. And in the case of being open it would be difficult to win the seat in Kentucky with R Paul in the top of the ticket, even with H Clinton in the Democratic Party. Not an easy prospect but maybe some chance, and surely a competitive race.

NC-Sen 2016: R Burr is not a specially weak incumbent but NC is not as hostile state. Taking into account the prospect of a favourable year in 2016 with H Clinton as candidate, we can not forget this seat. The Democratic bench is good. There is a decent number of Democratic statewide eleccted officers, but in NC there is not a local strong star like in other states (Beebe, Bayh, Bredesen, Beshear,...).

MO-Sen 2016: The Democratic Party would have a strong challenger also for R Blunt. There is not reason to think that R Blunt is weak, but J Nixon is fairly popular and can make the race competitive. The current governor of MO is term limited in 2016 and to challenge R Blunt can be a natural step in his political career, taking into account that C McCaskill holds the other seat in MO.

OH-Sen 2016: The last case of this list of potential options for the Democratic Party in R+ states (PVI), would be the seat that today hold R Portman. Some of his recent positions can make him vulnerable in the Republican primary, but still, with T Strickland ruling out the race, the Democratic bench can be a little weaker than in other commented states. In the other side the nature of the state is more favourable.

In the other side, at this point 12 of these seats are in Democratic hands (including WV-Sen 2014 and SD-Sen 2014).

I always like to give to the people the chance of giving their oppinion in my diaries in some related poll. We have today the chance to let the people talk about many future elections. I would like to include all the options in the poll, but the system only allows to include 15. Then this time I will include the last 15 options in the poll.

I encourage you to vote in the poll for we can find together the best options in the path for a Democratic majority after the 2018 elections. And if you get interested, I encourage you to find the monday a new diary related to this that will include the winner options of today's poll with more options of this diary unpolled today. You will see it easily in the frontpage of DKE (DailyKos Elections). This also can help us to see where is more necessary to fight this cycle.


Taking into account the previous analisys, we would be leaving 38 senate seats in an area of relative confort (at least Lean D in a worst case situation, but wihtout retirements in competitive states). We would have 34 seats in the lists, and we would be leaving 28 seats in the very low hope area (29 with ME-Sen 2014).

In the following days, with the readers votes, we can rank the seats listed with some polls in a short series of diaries. At this point this would be the rank:

38.- seats in the area of relative confort

72.- 29 seats in the area of very low hope (including ME-Sen 2014).

Mon Apr 07, 2014 at  9:37 AM PT: I updated the diary to include FL-Sen 2018, IL-Sen 2016 and WI-Sen 2016 as favourable races where there is some chance of see the race as a Toss-Up thanks to some strong potential Republican challenger (FL) or some weak potential Democratic challengers (IL and WI). The update has not influence in the poll of the diary.


Vote for the easiest option for a victory of the Democratic Party.

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| 81 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Come on people. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abgin, JamieG from Md, ridemybike

    Let's support abgin's efforts.

  •  Personally, I'd say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abgin, ridemybike

    Potential gains (w/potential D candidates):
    Wisconsin (Feingold, Kind)
    Illinois (Madigan, Simon, Duckworth)
    Iowa (Vilsack, Culver)
    Ohio (T. Ryan, Turner, Pilich)
    PA (Sestak, Kane)
    NH (Hassan, Lynch, Kuster)
    NC (Foxx, Cowell)
    Fla. (Deutch, DWS)
    KY. (Conway, Edelen)
    AZ. (Giffords, Carmona, Sinema)
    Mo. (Nixon, Zweifel, Kander)
    Alaska: only in another three-way race
    Arkansas: only if Beebe runs
    Georgia: Probably only if Isakson retires
    Indiana: Probably only if Bayh runs or Donnelly retires
    Louisiana: if Vitter retires and Mitch Landrieu runs
    North Dakota: only if Hoeven retires
    Oklahoma: only if Inhofe retires and Boren runs
    SD: if Thune retires and Brendan Johnson or SHS run

    AZ (Giffords, Carmona, Sinema)
    NV (Ross Miller, Cortez-Masto, Horsford)
    TX (Davis, Castros)

    Potential losses:
    Nevada: Reid is unpopular. Hopefully Flores can win the LG race in 2014 to stop Sandoval from running in 2016.
    Colorado: One-term incumbent in swing state.

    FL: Anyone in their 70's is on retirement watch.
    IN: One-term incumbent in red-leaning state.
    ME: If a three-way race goes poorly.
    MO: McCaskill probably would've lost against a non-Akin.
    MT: Tester won just 48.6%.
    ND: One-term incumbent in red-leaning state.
    WI: One-term incumbent in a battleground state.
    Long shots:
    MI: Only if Stabenow retires.
    MN: Only if Klobuchar retires.
    OH: If Brown retires.
    PA: If Casey retires.
    VA: If Kaine retires.
    WV: If Manchin retires.

  •  Long run is series of short runs. Focus on 2014 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is more productive.

    •  To have the overall overview always help to think (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for the short term.

      I don't think it is negative to think about the overall picture. Other think would be begin to work actively some race after 2014, as example begin to fundraise...

      •  but 2014 results wl influence 2016 races more than (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        abgin, ridemybike

        ...any other factor.

        This has long been true, but is even truer now that so many issues, along with political strategies and political spending, have become nationalized.

        If you want to

        •    encourage a candidate to enter a 2016 race, or
        •    encourage a candidate to adopt a position in the run-up to the 2016,
        ...the best way to do this is to demonstrate popularity in the 2014 election results.

        A dollar contributed or a view expressed today to influence the 2014 elections is the best way

        •    to boost that view, and
        •    to enable candidates adopting that view to attract contributions, the 2016 election cycle.
        •  I agree in most of what you say (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But there is one detail where I agree not. I think the most influential factor for 2016 will be the quality of the presidential nominee of every party.

          At this point we have 2 factors that help us doing the necessary analisys to look at the overall picture like we are doing in this diary.

          - At this point the strategy for every seat in 2014 is done and we have a taste about what is the situation in every race. Without major surprises in the remaining months we can see what is coming in November with not big margin of error.

          - And the second factor is that for 2016 we have a taste about who can run, and in the Democratic party there is lower uncertainty than in the Republican side.

          •  2 points of disagreement R part of a bigger point: (0+ / 0-)

            1. Contrary to this:

            the most influential factor for 2016 will be the quality of the presidential nominee of every party.
            ...I think it is more productive to reverse this approach by focusing on, and act to benefit from,
            the influence of 2014 candidates' and their messages' campaigning success will have on the later quality of Hillary as a presidential candidate, nominee and officeholder.
            2. Contrary to this:
            At this point the strategy for every seat in 2014 is done and we have a taste about what is the situation in every race. Without major surprises in the remaining months we can see what is coming in November with not big margin of error.
            ...I believe that major surprises are very common, triggered in part by decisions on strategy, especially on the two related decisions of:
            (a) what will be the major messages of Democratic candidates, and

            (b) which candidates will most effectively, and will receive the most support from different Democratic constituencies and contributors in order to, make those messages stand out from background noise and manufactured distractions.

            3. These two points are part of a bigger point:

            Governance starting in 2017 could become impossible if Hillary and other Democrats come into office after a Republican majority in the Senate has used the period 2015-2016 to shove the nation past:

            catastrophic tipping points on
            •    climate change,
            •    a surveillance-controlled society,
            •    a broadened military industrial complex,
            •    a hollowing out of government’s internal checks and balances, and
            •    a more-complete subordination of politics to money.

            Moreover, this scenario would greatly reduce the possibility of Hillary and other Democrats come into office in 2017.
            •   I think (0+ / 0-)

              I think that 2016 being an open race has more influence in the presidential election than the environment of 2014.

              All the potential candidates of both sides know that this (open races) will not happen again until 2024, when most of them be too old to run. 2016 for most of the potential candidates is a: "It is now or never". This is what always make the biggest potential players to appear in an open presidential election. And then the quality of the candidates of both sides is able to create an own environment.

              Except if Obama falls into corruption or scandals, the previous environment will not have a different influence over the presidential race than what we can see now.

              The strategy for 2014 is done. It is defined what seats will be competitive and what seats will not be challenged. Even the filing death line passed in most of the states. The picture in November will be very close to the current picture except if some of the candidates fall into scandals.

              We can not rule out some major surprise, but also we can try to preview where a major surprise can come from. As example we can preview a defeat of M McConnell in the primary, or something else, and vote in the poll of the diary in consequence.

              But this mean the Democratic party has all done this cycle. The strategy is done, but the figth not, and the campaign must be done as hard as the Democratic Party can.

              This diary mean not I'm conceding a Republican majority after 2014 elections. If you want a view more focused in the short term see the first link of my diary. I have it done and I will keep updating it (publicly or not) until the election day.

  •  retirements (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At this point, the senate is younger than it should be. At this point the oldest senator has 80 years old. I expect some retirement in the following years but more because political weakness than for age.

    In the Democratic side I expect the retirement of B Mikulski, B Boxer and maybe D Feinstein, I tend to think that H Reid and W Nelson will not retire. In both cases it would be so difficult to replace them. A victory in NV-LG this year would help but would not assure to have B Sandoval out of the race, out of the race for President, out of VP potential list, or out of some cabinet level appointment. And I see less probable a retirement of Kaine, Brown, Casey... I think there is not enough threat for them to retire.

    In the case of political weakness a retirement can be worse than to run against the weak senator, then I care not too much about them. See the case of J McCain as example.

    J Inhofe is running this year, very silent race, but is in 2014. Unfortunately he will not be strongly challenged. The filing death line is in a few days, and it would be a major surprise if someone strong like B Henry chanllenge him. In Oklahoma like in South Carolina both seats are in play this year, and are not being challenged despite to have an open race and an appointed senator running by first time. This is why I included not some potential option in both states.

    Also I included not CO-Sen 2016 between the potential loses because I see both incumbents in Colorado in a close situation, and this year M Udall is not being enough challenged to consider the race as a Toss-Up. I think the political environment can make easier CO-Sen 2016 than CO-Sen 2014.

    And finally I dont expect a three way race for ME-Sen 2018. A King is the independent and there is not reason to have a Democrat challenging him, and more looking at the low wish of figth of the Democratic bench for ME-Sen 2014.

    Thank you, very interesting to know what you think.

  •  nice to see abgin back to old form! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abgin, Jorge Harris


    I voted for A L Grimes .... because I think she has a real shot of unseating mcturtle , and I really want to see it happen!

    hope all is well, my friend :-)

    every adult is responsible for every child

    by ridemybike on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 11:29:27 PM PDT

    •  Thank you very much ridemybike ) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I glad you liked )

      I you wish to see the rank completed, keep one eye in the Daily Kos Elections frontpage because there are still options unpolled that must me integrated in the overall rank in some new diary that allows to have new polls.

      Monday night will be the following edition. Until then more people will be voting to define better the view of the readers.

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