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ANALYSIS: Democrats Not Poised to Win Back Senate in 2018

RealClearPolitics David Byler looked back at previous Senate contests to determine Democrats’ chances next year…

2018 Senate Democrats

It’s a bit early to be making predictions about the 2018 midterms, but a new analysis from RealClearPolitics‘ David Byler shows that the Senate map will be Democrats’ biggest impediment to retaking the majority.

First, take a look at the Senate map Byler created, plotting out the partisan lean of each state:

RCP 2018 Predictions

This graphic shows the partisan lean of each state with a Senate contest (special elections omitted) from 1986 to 2018. Each point is a Senate election (color indicates which party holds the seat), and the vertical location shows the partisan index of the state. The partisan index is simple: It’s the sum of two numbers — a measure of the presidential and state-level partisan leanings of each state.

Byler noted that the map is “bad for Democrats but not unprecedented.” But then, he dropped this bomb: “It also suggests that Democrats aren’t favored to win back the upper chamber — but they have to perform reasonably well in maps like this if they want to win control in later cycles.”

A bit later in the piece, Byler explains his reasoning:

Basically the graphic shows that Democrats are in a bad but not unprecedented situation. They are defending a number of seats in highly red states. They’re also running in a number of swing states, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

When a party has a map like this one, they often lose seats.

Time and a number of other factors will ultimately tell. Prognosticators were famously wrong in their predictions leading up to the 2016 election, and anyone making picks a year and a half ahead of time does so at their own peril. But the map doesn’t lie.