Cook Report Moves ND-Sen. to 'Lean' R; Dems' Majority Hopes Now in Danger? | NTK Network Cook Report Moves ND-Sen. to ‘Lean’ R; Dems’ Majority Hopes Now in Danger?

Cook Report Moves ND-Sen. to ‘Lean’ R; Dems’ Majority Hopes Now in Danger?

Heidi Heitkamp is looking more and more like a politician headed for defeat. That makes Senate Democrats' efforts to retake the chamber more difficult.

By NTK Staff | 10.19.2018 @11:00am
Cook Report Moves ND-Sen. to ‘Lean’ R; Dems’ Majority Hopes Now in Danger?

On Friday, the Cook Political Report moved the North Dakota U.S. Senate race into Rep. Kevin Cramer’s (R-ND) corner, with Cook’s Jennifer Duffy writing that Heitkamp likely cannot “turn this around in the next 19 days.”

If the theme of this cycle’s Senate races proves to be that geography is destiny then there will be no better example than the contest in North Dakota between Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and GOP U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer. It has become apparent that what matters most in this contest is party affiliation. While Heitkamp has done everything within her power to win a second term, and Cramer seems at odds with voters on some issues, he has been sitting on a lead ranging from the high single digits to the low teens. And despite Heitkamp’s best efforts, it doesn’t appear that she can turn this around in the next 19 days. As such, the race moves to the Lean Republican column, and this rating change has implications for Democrats’ efforts to win the majority.

What are those implications Duffy refers to?

Let’s assume Heitkamp loses to Cramer in a little over two weeks. All else equal, that would put the Senate GOP at 52 seats. To capture a net three seats needed to retake the majority, Democrats would need to do both of the following:

  • Hold all the seats where they have vulnerable incumbents running for their political lives: Indiana (Joe Donnelly), Missouri (Claire McCaskill), Florida (Bill Nelson), Montana (Jon Tester)
  • Win three of four seats that Republicans currently hold and are competitive; at least three of four (Texas, Tennessee, and Nevada) are trending in Republicans’ direction, based on recent polling. The Democratic candidate in the fourth state, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, is having an incredibly rough few weeks as past radical comments she made emerge.

If Democrats lose any one of their four vulnerable seats, they’d have to sweep the four Republican-held seats to have a chance at retaking the majority. If Democrats lose any two of their four vulnerable seats, their chances of retaking the majority in 2018 are near impossible.

In short, Heitkamp’s failing campaign has given Republicans a significant boost in their chances to keep the upper chamber in 2019 and 2020.

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