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Countdown To 2020 — One Week Before The New Year, Where Do Elections For Congress, President Stand?

With one week until 2019 comes to an end, attention will be paid toward a number of political races that are set to come about in 2020 — not just the presidential election, but also congressional races in the House and Senate.

Looking at polling at this time may seem meaningless, but prognosticators at the end of 2017 accurately predicted many of the 2018 midterm results, including getting the final national vote totals (Democratic versus Republican votes) almost completely right.

Alex Wong/Getty Images; Drew Angerer/Getty Images

With that in mind, here’s where things stand right now, from a data standpoint, for the House, the Senate, and Presidential races in 2020.

The Senate

Within the Senate, things are already pretty tight…so any vulnerable seats that are up for grabs are going to be paid attention to. For Democrats, a difficult seat to defend will be Alabama, where Sen. Doug Jones won a contentious special election race in 2017.

But Republicans have more areas they’ll need to defend in 2020 — and more toss-up states where they risk losing. Senate seats in Arizona (Sen. Martha McSally), Colorado (Sen. Cory Gardner), and in Maine (Sen. Susan Collins) are all listed in the “toss-up” column within The Cook Political Report’s rankings of senate races as of press time Thursday evening.

For Collins specifically, impeachment politics may play a role in her chances. Independent voters especially are shifting, albeit slightly, their views in favor of at least looking into charges against President Donald Trump, and it might be wise for Collins, from a political standpoint, to be an independent voice in the coming weeks.

That said, if she touts the party line (including supporting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s dubious managing of an impeachment trial), it could backfire against her come next fall.

Presently, the Senate is in Republican control, with 53 members of the GOP in office within that chamber (versus 45 Democrats and two independents in opposition). Even if Jones is able to hold onto Alabama, and all three Republicans in the “toss-up” column lose in 2020, the Senate will be 50-50 control, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking any ties in voting on legislation, and committee control remaining in Republicans’ hands. Then again, if the presidency is won by a Democrat, then they will only need those three seats to win control of the Senate.

Of course, things could change between now and November, and additional toss-up senators (from either party) could be added to Cook’s column in the coming months.

The House

All 435 seats in the House are up for grabs in 2020, as they always are in every two-year election cycle. It becomes more difficult to determine who will win that chamber of Congress, then, as tracking every poll on every seat (including some without polls or opposition, for that matter) is incredibly time-consuming.

But national polling on a generic question of who Americans support controlling the House demonstrates that Democrats have the upper hand, at least at this moment in time. Per a recent poll from The Economist, When asked within that poll whether respondents supported the generic Democratic candidate on their ballot versus the generic Republican candidate, 47 percent said they wanted Dems to retain control, with just 41 percent saying they wanted the GOP to take over.

Another sign that things are going badly for Republicans? More incumbents from that party are saying they won’t run again next fall. Almost two-dozen Republican lawmakers have said they won’t run for re-election, while just a small handful of Democrats have said the same. Incumbents have a better chance of winning than fresh candidates, so many eyes will be on those “open” seats to see if Democrats can’t pick up a few more in next year’s elections.

The President

Obviously, in a presidential election year, the race for president tends to take center stage. Given that Trump won 2016 in the Electoral College but without the consent of a popular vote victory, it’s not all-that surprising to see that millions of Americans are hoping to “correct” things within this election — or, in the case of Trump’s supporters, to prove the nay-sayers wrong and have him win a second term in office.

Polling in the race right now is somewhat challenging, since Democrats don’t yet know who they will pick as their nominee. Yet the same Economist poll cited above shows that Trump is standing at a difficult starting position.

When asked to choose between a generic Democrat and Trump, voters in the poll picked the Democrat, by a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent. Eight percent responded with “it depends,” meaning they might change their pick based on who the Democrats pick to represent them.

A Morning Consult tracking of approval rating polls across all 50 states finds that Trump is receiving negative ratings in a number of states. Taken together, the total Electoral College vote total within those states is equivalent to 353 votes, versus just 185 votes within states that have a net positive approval rating for Trump.

Now, approval ratings don’t demonstrate whether Trump will win a state or not — a person who is viewed negatively can still outperform a political opponent simply by making themselves look better. But it’s demonstrative of an election map that Trump will have to work hard to defend in 2020. If that map expands rather than contracts versus 2016, it’s a clear sign that the path to re-election for Trump is shrinking as well.



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