Pathways to victory: A look at how Democrats and Republicans can win the Senate


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Pathways to victory: A look at how Democrats and Republicans can win the Senate

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The fate of the Senate has been one of the biggest mysteries of this election cycle, but both major parties are within striking distance of winning control of Congress’s upper chamber.

A total of 35 seats in the Senate are up for grabs on Tuesday, including 12 Democratic-held and 23 Republican-held seats. Although Republicans are defending more seats, control of the Senate will likely be determined by six key races labeled “toss-ups” by Real Clear Politics, four of which are held by Democrats. Republicans need to net just one seat to win control.


Here is what is needed for Republicans to win the Senate:

Because four of the six competitive races are held by Democrats, Republicans are considered the slight favorites to flip the Senate. Two pick-up opportunities for the GOP can be found in Nevada and Georgia. Adam Laxalt (R-NV) is leading incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) by 1.4 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight, and 3.4 points, per RCP. Football star Herschel Walker (R-GA) is leading incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in Georgia by 1 point, according to FiveThirtyEight, and 1.4 points, per RCP. However, neither candidate is expected to reach 50% of the vote, which would send the election to a runoff that will be determined on Dec. 6.

In the closely watched Pennsylvania race, Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) is narrowly predicted to hold the Pennsylvania seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R). As of Nov. 8, Oz leads Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) by 1.4 percentage points, according to RCP, and 0.5 points, according to FiveThirtyEight.

RCP predicts Republicans will win the Senate by gaining three seats.

What Democrats need to keep control of the Senate:

The two independent senators in the upper chamber caucus with the Democrats, and Vice President Kamala Harris gets to serve as the tiebreaking vote in the 50-50 Senate, giving Democrats a razor-thin majority.

Democrats are predicted to hold on to their seats in New Hampshire and Arizona, and they could flip Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Although Sen. Ron Johnson (R) is projected to keep his seat in Wisconsin, he is considered vulnerable. Johnson is facing Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, but a flurry of attack ads on Barnes’s softer stance on crime has helped Johnson keep the momentum heading into the final stretch. The swing state is still considered a toss-up, however. If Democrats flip both states, it could help them keep control by counteracting losses in other states.

Democrats could also benefit from high voter turnout. Democrats tend to do better in early voting and through vote-by-mail ballots. With the midterm races seeing an increase in early voting and vote-by-mail numbers, this could help Democrats if in-person voting has a lower voter turnout.


The party of the White House often suffers a blow in the midterm elections, meaning Republicans are widely expected to flip the House. Although the political landscape looked more optimistic for Democrats earlier this summer after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and boosted their base’s enthusiasm, recent polling indicates the economy, a topic benefiting Republican candidates, appears to be motivating most voters.

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