Analysis: Control Of The Senate Is Now A Toss-Up, With Democrats Perhaps Slightly Favored

This is the third piece in NDN's weekly Thursday polling round-up. You can find the previous two weeks' pieces here and here.

In our polling round-ups over the past two weeks, we've discussed how the Presidential race remains remarkably consistent with the large advantages that the Democrats held in 2018, with the race continuing to see a 5-9 point lead for the Dems in our three preferred polling aggregates: Biden-Trump head to head, Trump approval rating, and Congressional generic ballot. 

However, a major new development in the past month has been a significant tightening of the race for the Senate majority, to the point where today Democrats probably are very slight favorites to win at least 50 seats. To get to 50 (a majority assuming Biden wins the presidency), Democrats have to win four of the following battleground states: Colorado, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina, Montana, Iowa, two Georgia seats, and Alabama (Dems currently have 47 seats, so they need 3 new seats plus Alabama/a 4th state - so 4 of these battlegrounds). Importantly, two of these seats - Colorado and Arizona - look very close to locks for Democrats, as the polling averages there currently have Dems up high single digits (8 in Arizona, where there has been high quality polling, and 17.7 in Colorado, where the polling has been relatively low quality however).

As a result, the majority will likely come down to whether Democrats can win two seats from Maine, North Carolina, Montana, Iowa, Georgia (two races), and Alabama - and right now Democrats are competitive in most of these states. Firstly, Dems likely have slight leads in both North Carolina and Maine. North Carolina has had several quality polls and they currently have Cal Cunningham up 0.3 points over incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis. Importantly, Tillis has consistently had his approval rating in the high 30s, and in the head to head polling he is averaging just 40.7% support. Similarly, Sen. Susan Collins in Maine has seen a dramatic decline in her approval rating from over 50% approval in 2018 to the mid-30s now. Maine has had very little head to head polling, but one high quality poll from PPP had her trailing by 4 to Sara Gideon.

Secondly, Dems are very close (although probably slight underdogs) in Montana and Iowa. The entry of Gov. Bullock into the Montana race has made it very competitive, with a recent (although quite low quality) poll from the University of Montana giving Bullock a 7 point lead. Bullock is almost certainly not leading by that type of margin (if at all), but the race is one that Democrats have a good at chance at winning. And in Iowa, incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst has also seen her approval rating drop quite significantly over the past year, and a new PPP poll found her leading by only 1 point to one of her potential Democratic challengers. Just like in Montana, Democrats are probably slight underdogs to win in Iowa, but they have made the race competitive nonetheless (and that is likely all they need to do in these two races to have a very good chance at winning the majority).

Finally, Democrats are long shots in both Georgia races and especially the Alabama race, but they could still make the Georgia races competitive and regardless, Dems don't need to be close in these states to still win the majority.

As always, below you can find a detailed aggregate of the most important polling data (in our view) for understanding where the 2020 election currently stands. 

Links: 12345678910111213, 14, 15, 16