The real 2020 drama is in the Senate. Here's how close it is to flipping

The real 2020 drama is in the Senate. Here's how close it is to flipping
Photo via Gage Skidmore.

Conservatives can't handle bad news, so they invent poll numbers to show themselves winning. Liberals are terrified of good news, so they obnoxiously say things like "pretend we're down by 20!"

Then there's reality—we're looking good in the presidential race, so the real drama is in the Senate. And we're just a few points from having a good night, and the best night possible.

Using FiveThirtyEight.com's Senate forecasts, we can see just how close that dividing line between "good" and "the best ever" really is.

STATE &

INCUMBENT PARTY

538

FORECAST

SENATE BALANCE

IF DEMS WIN

MARGIN IF

DEMS WIN

BASELINE53-47R+6
ALABAMA (D)R+7.254-46R+8
COLORADO (R)D+7.753-47R+6
MICHIGAN (D)D+6.753-47R+6
ARIZONA (R)D+5.652-48R+4
MAINE (R)D+2.451-49R+2
NORTH CAROLINA (R)D+2.3

50-50

TIED
IOWA (R) D+0.849-51D+2
GEORGIA SPECIAL (R)D+?(*)48-52D+4
GEORGIA (R)R+247-53D+6
MONTANA (R)R+3.446-54D+8
KANSAS (R)R+4.945-55D+10
SOUTH CAROLINA (R)R+5.744-56D+12
ALASKA (R)R+6.4

43-57

D+14
TEXAS (R)R+8.342-58D+16
MISSISSIPPI (R)R+10.541-59D+18

If these forecasts held, Democrats would emerge with a four-seat 52-48 majority. While better than being in the minority, that's a small enough minority that West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema could hold most of the Democratic agenda hostage. Furthermore, there are too many Democratic "institutionalists" in the Senate, like Vermont's Patrick Leahy and Delaware's Chris Coons, that even simple things like eliminating the filibuster could prove problematic.

So is a four-seat majority enough to pass the kind of aggressive reforms we need to safeguard our democracy? Doubtful.

Furthermore, we're not even guaranteed that much! North Carolina, Maine, and Georgia's special election seat are all within a few points in the 538 forecast. It's a real dogfight just to get to a small majority. A tied 50-50 Senate is still well within the realm of possibility.

But here's the flip side: What if the polls are understating Biden and Democratic support given how many new people are flooding into the system—young voters and previously inactive voters? What if the undecideds break as aggressively toward the Democrats this year as they did toward Trump and the GOP in 2016? What if we maximize our turnout because everyone is working so hard at get out the vote (GOTV), and our base is hyper-mobilized?

I actually think both Georgia Senate seats are looking good for us (even if we might need to wait until January to clinch the seats in runoff elections). If we win everything else the 538 model says we're leading, that puts us at 53-47. Looking better, right?

Then we have the races in Montana, Kansas, and South Carolina within five points or so. Those are all tough races that we're supposed to lose, but what if we work so hard that we pull them off? What if rural counties are so coronavirus-stricken that their Election Day turnout suffers? What if Donald Trump keeps saying stupid shit on the campaign trail and demobilizes even a fraction of his support? All we need is a small suppression of his vote alongside our own hyper-mobilized one to potentially swing these tough seats our way.

Then there's Alaska, which is near-impossible to poll, but there are many signs that Biden could carry it, or at least come shockingly close to doing so. That could pull our candidate there over the line. And given what we're seeing in Texas turnout, the polls may simply be incapable of processing the kind of seismic shift underway.

To be clear, I'm not saying we're going to win those seats, but if we can pull off just two upsets among that batch, we're suddenly looking at a 55-45 Senate, and actual freedom to do what we need to do: eliminate the filibuster, expand the courts, statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and a national voting rights bill that protects everyone's votes.

That's how close things are between a tied Senate, or even Republicans maintaining their majority, and a 10-seat majority that could become 14 seats nearly overnight with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico statehoods.

The money has flowed to these candidates. They won't lose from lack of resources. So it's up to us to do whatever GOTV we can to finish out the race. Just six more days to fix our American democracy.

1. Contact anyone you know in any of these battleground states and urge them to vote, and to make sure three of their friends/family/coworkers/acquaintances vote along with them. There are tons of battlegrounds. Here're just the presidential and Senate battlegrounds: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. That's 19 states.

2. There are dozens of battleground House districts—pretty much anyone who lives in the suburbs qualifies. So if you have any suburban contacts, reach out to them as well.

3. Reach out to everyone else and urge them to vote. Period. We build power by exercising power. There are few places in the country where a vote is truly wasted. There's something on the ballot worth fighting for. And if not, you're building toward the next election.

4. Go to DailyKos.com/GOTV to find something you can do in these last few days. There are myriad options on that page, so find something that suits your skills and personality and GOTV like the fate of our country depends on it.

We are winning, yes, but we need to win by even more. So if you're one of those people who need to be losing by 10 to be motivated, well, there are states on that list above that are legitimately 10 points down. Motivation engaged! Now let's win this thing!

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