Breaking Alignment

Democrats need at least one 2016 Trump state to win the Senate majority.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined at left by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, speaks to reporters about the bipartisan compromise worked out last night by Leahy and others in hope of averting another government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Kyle Trygstad
Feb. 15, 2019, 10:45 a.m.

The close alignment between Senate and presidential results over the past few cycles makes some of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s early recruitment moves all the more notable.

Schumer has spoken with candidates in Kansas and Kentucky, which both supported President Trump by at least 20 points and haven’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in decades. But with just two Republican-held seats up in states won by Hillary Clinton, the party needs at least one more from a 2016 Trump state for a chance at the majority—and expanding the playing field is rarely a negative.

Along with Colorado and Maine, where Clinton prevailed, the target list includes Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas, among others. All are expected to feature an incumbent, though Sen. Martha McSally was appointed after losing an open-seat race last year.

Democrats won several “mismatched” elections in 2018, as Pew Research refers to Senate races won by the party that lost that state in the most recent presidential election—though all but that Arizona contest had an incumbent, and a few were previously carried twice by President Obama. Meanwhile, senators lost in Nevada, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota in alignment with those states' 2016 results.

-- Kyle Trygstad


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