Arizona still too close to call
A vivid example of the mountain Democrats need to climb in order to gain control of the Senate is that Arizona is rated either their best or second best chance of a gain. A solid red state that has elected only one Democrat senator since the 1960s, although the fact they preferred Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by only 4% in 2016 offers hope in the current environment.
Trump approval here has fallen eight points to 47% which, along with the demographic changes that make Arizona a legitimate long-term blue target, may explain why previous Senator Jeff Flake was so keen to position himself as a critic of the president. Rather than face the fury of the GOP base, Flake then stood aside, resulting in an open contest between Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, which all indicators point towards a near dead-heat.
Synema has mostly led polls for the Democrats but that may have been an effect of a divisive Republican primary, and there are still lots of undecideds, who probably lean Republican. The outcome will largely hinge on turnout and particularly whether the Democrats can inspire suburban switchers and extra Hispanic voters to the polls.
Democrats edging ahead in Florida
The Sunshine State is famously pivotal when it comes to choosing a president and it could plausibly be the key to control of the Senate. Predictably given its recent electoral history, this is a toss-up which the Democrats must hold to have any chance of denying Republicans a majority.
Incumbent Bill Nelson is bidding for a fourth term against an opponent many believe will be tougher than he’s faced before. Rick Scott is the Republican Governor of Florida and was consistently recorded ahead in polls until recently.
Perhaps Scott’s higher everyday profile in the state offered an early advantage because since the campaigns began in earnest, Nelson has established a small, yet solid lead. Democrats will be particularly encouraged by a 7% lead with Quinnipac, which included only 1% of undecideds. Simultaneously, the Democrat candidate is ahead in the race to succeed Scott as governor.
Florida voted for Trump by a 1.3% margin but his approval has since fallen 7% to an underwater 49%. That is nevertheless higher than average and Florida’s demographics – large numbers of older, whiter, retirees and a large Cuban American constituency that lean to the Right – still make it very winnable for Republicans as Scott proved.