The Republican Party's hold on the Senate looks pretty solid less than two weeks until Election Day

The Republican stranglehold on the Senate is showing few signs of slipping.

The GOP has a clear advantage in the fight for control of the chamber 11 days before the Nov. 6 contests. The party has a clear edge in its defense of the chamber even as it appears likely to lose its House majority.

If Republicans can keep or expand their 51-49 Senate majority, it has huge stakes for President Donald Trump's continued push to confirm conservative judges. If Democrats take the House, keeping the Senate will also help the GOP curb the opposing party's policy priorities.

Here is how top forecasters viewed the fight for the Senate as of Friday:

  • Democrats need to take two net Senate seats to flip control of the Senate. The odds are stacked against them. Democrats and independents who caucus with them defend 26 seats this year, while Republicans only have to run in nine states the GOP holds.
  • Prognosticators generally consider 10 races the most competitive: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Democrats hold six of those seats, while Republicans have four. Some experts also consider contests such as races in New Jersey and Mississippi competitive.
  • Data website FiveThirtyEight's forecast gives the GOP about an 82 percent chance of holding the Senate, up from 79 percent a week ago.
  • The nonpartisan Cook Political Report currently favors the GOP to unseat Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. It lists nine races as toss-ups: Democratic-held Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and New Jersey, as well as GOP-held Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. If Heitkamp loses, Democrats would have to pull off the tough task of defending their five toss-up seats while winning three of the four GOP-held toss-up seats.
  • The nonpartisan Sabato's Crystal Ball has a slightly different outlook, but still paints a dim picture for Democrats. It also favors GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer to beat Heitkamp. It considers only five states — Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri and Nevada — toss-ups. It puts Texas and Tennessee in the lean Republican category.

A few developments late this week could alter the outlook in key races. Cook moved its rating on the New Jersey Senate race into its "toss-up" category. Corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez — which ended in a mistrial — have dogged the lawmaker as Republican ex-pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin piles millions of his own dollars into the race. Still, recent polls have showed a slight lead for Menendez.

A huge cash infusion could also help Heitkamp in North Dakota. She raised more than $12 million from Oct. 1 through Oct. 17 in the wake of her vote against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, about 20 times what Cramer took in during that period. Still, she faces an uphill climb in a state President Donald Trump won by nearly 40 percentage points.

In the tight Florida Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott also put another $12 million of his own money into the contest as he tries to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. An average of recent polls has found a slight lead for the Democratic senator.

That race has also drawn piles of spending from outside groups. Democratic organizations shelled out $60.5 million there from Oct. 3 to Oct. 25, in part to keep up with Scott's huge cash infusions. GOP outside groups spent about $18.8 million during that time.

In Nevada's competitive race, outside groups spent more than $75 million during that period. Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen aims to unseat GOP Sen. Dean Heller.

National organizations also spent just under $75 million in Arizona, where Republican Rep. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema battle for retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake's seat.


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