The Top 8 Senate Races in 2020 | NTK Network The Top 8 Senate Races in 2020

The Top 8 Senate Races in 2020

Five races are for seats currently held by Republicans, while three are for seats currently held by Democrats.

By NTK Staff | 11.09.2018 @12:30pm
The Top 8 Senate Races in 2020

The battle for the U.S. Senate was one of the hottest political storylines of 2018, and the GOP came out on top. At a minimum, Republicans will expand their majority by one, to 52 seats, and at best they will capture 54 seats. (This is assuming Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins a late November runoff in Mississippi, which is very likely to happen.)

After a recount in Florida and a slow count in Arizona, Republicans and Democrats will immediately shift to the 2020 battle for the Senate, given the chamber is still closely divided.

With that in mind, NTK Network is offering an early look at the top eight Senate races in 2020 – top not because of their likelihood to flip from one party to the other, per se, but these eight will attract the most attention inside the Beltway.


Overall, 21 Republican-held seats and 12 Democrat-held seats are up for reelection, which means national Democrats will seek to talk up their chances at retaking the Senate majority. Two Republican-held seats in states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 will be of particular focus: Maine and Colorado.

If Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the closely-watched moderate Republican, runs for reelection in 2020, expect national Democrats to go all out to defeat her. Many are still smarting from her decision to back Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court, and liberals have donated millions to an effort to defeat her.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) will be a top target for Democrats, given Colorado went for Clinton in 2016, and Gardner is an ally of the president. But Gardner has a strong fundraising network after chairing the NRSC in 2018, and has bipartisan credentials in the U.S. Senate.

Three other seats are longer shots for Democrats, but given these states may be ‘purple’ in 2020, Chuck Schumer may aim for flips in Arizona, Iowa, and North Carolina.

Arizona is a seat in flux, given Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who occupies the late John McCain’s seat, may leave the seat as soon as the end of the calendar year. If Kyl leaves, Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) will appoint a replacement, but regardless of who’s in the seat, there will be an election for the last two years of McCain’s term in 2020. Given how close the 2018 Senate race in Arizona is, expect it to be a tough fight.

Any Iowa challenger may receive a boost from the Democratic presidential candidates, some of whom will be practically living in the state in the fall and winter of 2019-2020. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is a popular incumbent in a Trump state, though, and will be tough to knock off.

Same goes for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who represents a Trump state. Obama won North Carolina in 2008, though, so Democrats may make a play for the state in 2020 – both at the presidential level and in the U.S. Senate race.


There are significantly fewer pick-off opportunities for Republicans in 2020 than there were in 2018, but there are a handful of states where Republicans can play.

The top one, and perhaps the clearest pickup opportunity for either party in 2020, is Alabama. The conventional wisdom is Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) won in large part due to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, who was already a deeply-flawed candidate. If Alabama Republicans put up a decent candidate against Jones – maybe even Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – expect the GOP to retake the seat.

Less likely to flip are two purple-state seats held by Democrats in Michigan and New Hampshire. Michigan went for Donald Trump in 2016, and if the president can win the state again in 2020, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) could be in trouble.

Same goes for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who won reelection by less than four points in 2014.

Overall, while the 2020 U.S. Senate battle will take a backseat to the presidential race, the chamber will be up for grabs again. Expect hundreds of millions of dollars in election spending and thousands upon thousands of TV ads.

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