2016 Senate Race
The U.S. Senate is one of two legislative chambers of Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each state, regardless of population, is represented by two senators who serve staggered six-year terms. There are 100 senators in total, 34 of whom are up for re-election in 2016. The 2016 Senate race will provide many bitter battles and have a significant impact on the structure of Supreme Court and the ability of the next president to implement their agenda.
Can the Democrats take 2016 Senate Race
The Senate majority currently sides with the Republicans, but the chamber can be retaken by the Democrats if they take 5 seats in November. Many of the seats up for election are held by freshmen Republican incumbents who came in midterm wave of 2010. Recently, Democrats have fared well during presidential elections, having made gains in the Senate in 2008 and 2012. However, they tend to do poorly during midterm election periods, so if they fail to retake the Senate, they likely won’t see an opportunity until 2020 to do so again.
Two Republican Senators currently up for re-election also ran in the Presidential election this year: Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Marco Rubio chose not to seek re-election. Rand Paul sought both the presidency and re-election. In a 111-36 vote, the Republican Party of Kentucky central committee approved a presidential caucus to replace its presidential primary, thereby preventing Paul from appearing on two ballots and violating Kentucky campaign law. Paul consequently suspended his presidential campaign, making this a non-issue.
The Next Supreme Court Appointment Will be Huge Issue in the 2016 Senate Race
The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has intensified the 2016 Senate elections. Confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice requires 60 votes in the Senate, meaning that the Republican controlled Senate can and likely will deny any nominee chosen by President Barack Obama. Assuming that the Senate does block any nominee of President Obama, confirmation will be left to the newly elected Senate in 2017. This puts increased pressure on both parties to win the Senate in 2016, as the chamber will have the ability to confirm or deny the next president’s nominees. This could also raise the issue of Republican obstructionism in battleground states and potentially harm Republican incumbents who need to appeal to more moderate voters in order to win re-election.
Democrats need a net gain of five Senate seats for a majority, and the 2016 map could work in the party’s favor. There are 24 Republican seats up this cycle, and seven are in states President Barack Obama won twice. Democrats have 10 Senate seats up this cycle, including two in the battleground states of Colorado and Nevada. There are three “toss up” seats, two of which are being vacated by Marco Rubio and Harry Reid of Nevada. The third belongs to Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin).