The 2020 election could be disastrous for republicans in the Senate. As Trump slips precipitously in the polls, he could also threaten his party’s chances of holding their Senate majority. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has confirmed that he has no intentions of stepping down from his role as the Senior Republican in the Senate. This includes if his party loses the majority.
Of course, this presupposes that McConnell will win reelection in November. At present, this seems like a plausible outcome. Challengers to McConnell’s seat in Kentucky have been running determined campaigns, however. What’s more, McConnell will need the Republican Party to continue to back him as their senior Senate member. Whether or not this occurs could depend on the party’s own performance in November.
While Trump is slipping in national approval ratings, more than just the White House could be up for grabs. In the Senate, republicans need to defend some 23 seats. Meanwhile, democrats only have 12 seats up for reelection, mostly in friendly states. The notable exception is Doug Jones, who needs to defend a seat in Alabama.
On the other hand, democrats have a number of opportunities to flip seats in their favor. Places like North Carolina, Arizona and Montana offer chances for democrats to flip seats. These aren’t historically deep red states, but are instead decidedly purple.
Notably, the math favors democrats in this race: they need only four seats to control the Senate. Should Joe Biden win in November, they’ll need only three.
In 2018, democrats seized control of the House of Representatives in a huge blue wave. Some pundits have noted the same is possible in 2020. Should democrats continue to hold the House and even flip the Senate in November, the presidential election itself could become a secondary concern. The reason? The 2022 electoral map is even worse for Senate republicans.
In 2022, republicans will be defending some 22 seats, and democrats, again, will be defending 12. Those republican seats largely reside in even deeper purple states than 2020. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida will all be up for grabs, making things tough for Senate republicans.
What’s more, Senator Richard Burr has said he won’t seek reelection in 2022. This means North Carolina will have an open-seat election.
Few folks expect Chuck Grassley of Iowa to run in 2022; he’ll be 89 years old by then. All of this is to say: Should republicans lose the Senate in 2020, they’ll face a long, uphill battle to regain power in Washington.