Republicans entered 2017 dreaming of dramatically expanding their Senate majority. But after a bruising year capped off by Democrat Doug Jones’ upset victory in Alabama, the GOP is staring at a 2018 with diminished ambitions.
Still, the GOP will be on offense in 2018. Despite a favorable political environment driven by President Donald Trump’s poor public standing, Democrats still only have two real pick-up opportunities next November, in Nevada and Arizona. Texas? Too expensive to attack with so much ground to defend. Tennessee? The party landed its dream recruit in former Gov. Phil Bredesen, but Trump won the state by 26 points in 2016.
While the field is tilted toward Democrats, the map still isn’t. Democrats are still defending five states Trump won by double-digits, and another five he won more narrowly. In some of these states (Pennsylvania, Michigan), public polling has indicated Trump’s popularity is slipping and there’s a population of college-educated voters who dislike the president to lift Democratic incumbents. Polling in other states (Missouri and Indiana) indicate the president is holding strong and will likely be an asset for GOP candidates.
Here’s POLITICO’s list of the top 10 Senate races of 2018, ranked by how likely they are to change parties: