Senate primary races in key states on Tuesday had positive outcomes for Republicans looking to keep their U.S. Senate majority. Strong GOP candidates emerged in West Virginia and Indiana, as the party avoided nominating a troubled candidate that would have forfeited the race to a Democrat in November.
This is just the latest news to complicate the Democrats’ pipe dream of winning back the Senate majority. Data compiled by Axios reveals how steep that hill will be for Democrats to climb. Of the 35 Senate seats up for reelection this year, 26 are held by Democrats (or Independents that caucus with Democrats). Ten of these Democratic seats are in swing or red states President Donald Trump won in 2016 (FL, IN, OH, PA, MI, MT, MO, ND, WI, WV). There is only one Republican seat in a state where Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016 (NV).
In recent Midterm Elections, flipping a Senate seat is more likely when the state is held by the challenging party. In 2014, Republicans flipped every Democratic seat up in red states (AK, AR, LA, MT, NC, SD, WV) and picked up two seats in states President Barack Obama won in 2012 (CO, IA). In 2010, Republicans flipped six seats held by Democrats (AR, IL, IN, ND, PA, WI), four in states Mr. Obama won in 2008. In 2006, Democrats flipped six Republican seats (MO, MT, OH, PA, RI, VA), four in states that President George W. Bush won in 2004. In 2002, only one Democrat flipped a Republican seat (AR), while two Republicans flipped Democratic seats (GA, MO) in red states. In 1998, Republicans flipped three states held by Democrats (IL, KY, OH), while Democrats flipped two red states (IN, NC). And in 1994, Republicans flipped eight Democratic seats (AZ, ME, MI, OH, OK, PA, TN, TN), several in red states.
This does not mean the road for Republicans will be an easy one, however. Some of these years show a state’s political lean does not seal its fate. Democrats up for reelection in 2018 are seasoned politicians who know their states. While the map is tough for Democrats, Republican challengers will need to avoid mistakes and run good campaigns if they are to win.