State of the Race: 2016 Senate Elections

February 14, 2016

The death of Justice Scalia has highlighted the importance of this year's 34 Senate elections, where control of the body that ratifies presidential Court nominations is again hanging in the balance. We've summarized the current state of the race in the table below. Use our 2016 interactive Senate map to review the current Senate, make an election forecast, and then see the 2017 Senate based on your prediction.

The left part of the table shows the 16 potentially competitive races in 2016; these are the seats that will determine control of the Senate. For a race to be in this list, at least one of three 'pundits' needed to see the race as at least somewhat competitive. The other 18 seats were seen as safe for the incumbent party by all three; these are listed to the bottom right.

In the top right, we've summarized what it all means. The current Senate is controlled by Republicans, with 54 seats; Democrats have 46 (including Maine independent Angus King). More than 70% (24 of 34) of the seats to be contested this year are currently held by Republicans, with the composition of safe seats much closer to 50-50. This puts the Democratic floor at 43 seats, Republicans at 41 or, put another way, 3 Democratic seats are at risk, while 13 Republican ones are in play. 

Several of the seats fall into the 'likely' category; those may or may not end up as competitive. If we adjust for that, we end up with a 'Likely' floor of 46 for Republicans, 44 for Democrats, with 10 seats seen as highly competitive.

The three pro ratings we used are those of Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report and The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report

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