The 2018 elections are right around the corner, believe it or not.
In an analysis of next year’s midterm elections, a DC based publication compiled a list of the seven most vulnerable Senate seats being defended, five of which belong to Democrats.
While they enjoy an advantage in the president’s dismal approval ratings, the electoral map is daunting for the Democrats in 2018. They must defend 25 seats to the Republicans’ 7, 10 of which are in states Trump won.
The Hill states they will need to “thread the needle in deep-red states just to tread water.”
The list from The Hill reads as follows:
- Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) – Heller is the first of two Republicans to make the list, as he battles against challenger Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) in a state Hillary Clinton won. Rosen has the backing of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the dean of Nevada Democrats. Rosen’s camp is hammering Heller on health care, on which he has flip flopped, and the Republicans’ legislative floundering isn’t helping him any either. Democratic leaning Public Policy polling pegged him at just a 22 percent approval rating.
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) – McCaskill is one of few Democratic office holders left standing in deep red Missouri, a state which Trump won by 19 points. Further hurting McCaskill’s credibility is her high standing amongst the failed Hillary Clinton campaign. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) continues to move closer to a bid, and McCaskill will have to rely on her strong fundraising skills and his inexperience to overcome the demographic.
- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) – Again, Donnelly is fighting to retain his seat in a state Trump won by 19 points. His two main contenders, Republican Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, are engaged in a nasty primary, which could play to his favor. However, Republicans are seizing on a recent report that Donnelly owned stock in a family company that outsources jobs to Mexico, even as he publicly criticized other companies for sending jobs out of the country.
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) – Perhaps the most nationally recognized Senate contest is that of Jeff Flake, who Trump has been most vocal in denouncing. A president publicly backing the challenger to an incumbent of the same party is far from normal, and it leaves Flake’s generally strong chances for re-election in question. Earlier in August, Trump called Flake “toxic” in a tweet where he applauded Kelli Ward, Flake’s primary opponent. Flake has been outspoken in his distaste for Trump while promoting a book he recently wrote titled, “Conscience of the Conservative,” about where the GOP went wrong with the current president. Trump donors are pumping Ward’s coffers full to bursting, so Flake will have to do all he can to hold on.
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W.V.) – West Virginia was the state in which Trump enjoyed his most resounding victory, winning by a margin of 42 points. Manchin has been the farthest right Democrat in the Senate for a while, but with West Virginia’s governor switching to the Republican Party earlier this summer, the GOP will hammer Manchin for not doing the same. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) are locked in another tough primary, as each tries to capture the mantle of being the “true conservative” in the race.
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) – Heitkamp is fighting another uphill battle for the Dems, as Trump won North Dakota by 36 points. She must toe the line between Democratic policy positions and Trump’s popularity among her constituents, much like Manchin.
- Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – Republicans eye this Montana seat hungrily, as Trump won the state by 20 points and Republican Greg Gianforte just won the state’s at-large congressional seat in a special election — even after he assaulted a reporter. Tester has never hit 50 percent in either of his two Senate bids, winning each election with 49 percent after a Libertarian candidate siphoned off part of the vote.
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