Second only to whether Donald Trump will be unseated as president by Joe Biden in the national election is whether Democrats can “flip” the Senate and take voting control from the Republicans. The Senate is currently made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two Independents, who usually side with the Democrats when voting. Thirty-three Senate seats are being contested, and there are special elections for two seats held by Senators who resigned. While the forecasts of who will win many of these seats are in question, five incumbents are so far ahead in the polls that they are almost certain to be reelected.
What is at stake in these races? Democrats control the House of Representatives already. If the Senate becomes controlled by Democrats, and Biden wins, the party will have a clear path to introduce and reshape legislation, and the Republicans will have little chance to control that. President Trump enjoyed the same situation after the 2016 election.
A Democrat-controlled Senate also would determine the fate of major presidential appointments, in particular those to the Supreme Court.
By most counts, 10 Senate seats are up for grabs. The differences between the contestants in the polls are too close to forecast the likely outcome.
To determine which Senators are virtually guaranteed reelection, 24/7 Wall St. looked at polls from Real Clear Politics and odds of election from FiveThirtyEight.
1. John Cornyn is the incumbent Republican Senator from Texas. He has represented the state since 2002. Prior to his election, he was the attorney general of Texas. He was the first Republican to hold that job since the 1870s. He has also been a state supreme court justice. His average lead in the polls, based on Real Clear Politics data, is eight points. His opponent is Democrat M. J. Hegar.
2. Mark Warner is the incumbent Democratic Senator from Virginia. He has held the seat since 2008. Prior to his time in the Senate, he was the 69th governor of Virginia. He was also the chair of the state Democratic Party from 1993 to 1995. Warner’s average lead in the polls is just over 15 points. His opponent is Republican Daniel Gade.
3. Jeanne Shaheen is the incumbent Democratic Senator from New Hampshire. She has held the seat since 2008. Prior to that, she was the state’s first female governor. She held that position for three terms. She lost when she ran for the Senate seat in 2002. Shaheen’s lead in the polls averages almost 16 points. Her opponent is Republican Corky Messner.
4. Jim Inhofe is the incumbent Republican from Oklahoma. He was first elected to the seat in 1994. Prior to that, he was the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district from 1987 to 1994 and mayor of Tulsa from 1978 to 1984. He also has been a member of the Oklahoma state House of Representatives and state Senate. His average lead in the polls is 20 points. His opponent is Democrat Abby Broyles.
5. Tom Cotton is the incumbent Republican from Arkansas. He was first elected to the seat in the 2014 election. Prior to that, Cotton held the seat as the U.S. House of Representatives member from Arkansas’s 4th district from 2012 to 2014. Before that, he served eight years in the U.S. Army. In a poll taken early this month, his lead was 25 points. His opponent is Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr.