by Cady Voge
The White House is not the only thing at stake in this election. If Hillary wins but the House and Senate remain majority Republican, she will face the same challenges to passing legislation that have plagued Obama throughout most of his presidency. Republicans have had control of the Senate since 2014, when they won big by keeping all of their seats up for re-election and gaining a whopping nine new seats that were previously held by Democrats. This bumped Republicans up to 54 out of 100 Senators.
Republicans have held a majority in the House of Representatives since 2010, just two years into Obama’s first term, and they will most likely maintain this majority in today’s election. In other words, the Democrats have a better chance at the Senate than the House.
How the Senate works and what today’s election could change:
- There are 50 US states, each state has two senators, 100 senators total
- Terms are six years long
- One third of the Senate seats are up for election every two years
- 34 Senate races are appearing on various state ballots in today’s election
- 24 of those seats are currently held by Republicans, 10 are currently held by Democrats
Because there are many more seats currently held by Republicans that are on the ballots today, the Democrats have better chances for gaining significant ground than the Republicans do. However, based on the polls, only a handful of races look close enough to switch sides.
In order to gain the majority, Democrats will need to keep those 10 seats and win five additional seats in order to be in the majority. If they win just four seats resulting in a 50-50 split between the two parties, the party whose candidate wins the White House will be in the majority once the president is sworn in on 20 January 2017. One of the roles of the Vice President of the United States is to serve as the President of the Senate, meaning he is required to vote in the event of a tie, whereas normally he does not have voting power. According to Pollster Nate Silver’s latest prediction, Clinton has a 71.4% chance of winning.
What are the Democrats’ chances?
As of this morning, Silver puts the Democrats at a 50.7% chance of winning enough seats in the Senate to assume a majority. There are exactly four Senate races that Silver predicts to have a better than zero chance of flipping from Republican to Democrat, the exact
number the Democrats need, if Hillary wins. Of those four, Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth has the best odds of winning over Republican incumbent Mark Kirk. The othe
r three races in question – Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire – show razor thin odds in favor of the Dem
One piece of good news for the Democrats is that none of the polls show leads for Republican candidates overtaking a current Democratic seat. And there is only one such race that appears to be dangerously close (but still in favor of the Democrat): Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada is retiring and has endorsed candidate Catherine Cortez Mastro (D), who only has a slight edge against her Republican rival Joe Heck. Republicans on the other hand, do not have the same stronghold on their existing seats. Missouri’s Republican incumbent Roy Blunt only has a 0.7 lead over Democrat Jason Kander. The other two closest races are Indiana and North Carolina’s, leaning only slightly toward the Republican candidates.
Even high profile candidate and former presidential hopeful from Florida Senator Marco Rubio is only 5.5 points ahead of Democrat Patrick Murphy. Though not as close in the polls as some of the others, this senatorial race is taking place in one of the tightest battleground states for the presidential candidates. Tied with North Carolina as the state with the smallest margin in favor of Clinton at just 0.7 points leaning in her direction, Silver predicts a win for Hillary in Florida and a loss for her party’s Senate hopeful, Murphy. This prediction inherently depends on base Republicans, disheartened with their party’s presidential pick, to vote Hillary at the top of the ballot and vote to keep Rubio (R) in the Senate. If this senate race turns out to be an upset, Murphy would be the youngest Senator in office, and the first Millennial to join the upper house.