Red wave alert for Senate Democrats

Indeed, the race-by-race analysis hasn’t kept up with the deteriorating macro-political reality for Democrats. At the beginning of the cycle, Senate Democrats looked like they would benefit from a favorable Senate map, not defending a single state that Trump carried in 2020. But with Biden’s downturn, the swing states that the president carried narrowly (Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) now look like tough territory for the party in power. Meanwhile, Republican-leaning states like Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, which once looked competitive, now look like longer shots—even with a solid Democratic recruit in Florida, the presence of a Trump-endorsed candidate in North Carolina, and an underwhelming Republican field in Ohio. At the same time, Democratic-leaning Colorado and New Hampshire could get competitive, even without popular Gov. Chris Sununu running in the former and with a muddled GOP field in the latter…

The problem is: Biden and his party have dug such a deep hole that it would take Sinema-like levels of independence to prevail if the political environment doesn’t turn around. With Biden’s approval rating lagging about 10 points behind his 2020 vote share, it’s easy to see how the president drags a whole lot of Senate Democrats down with him. The (realistic) best-case scenario for Democrats now looks like simply holding their 50-seat majority, capitalizing on weak GOP candidates in a few key races, but inevitably losing at least one of their own. Cortez Masto looks like the most vulnerable Democratic senator right now, but perhaps they can make up a loss by winning the open GOP-held seat in Pennsylvania.

The worst-case scenario for Democrats could mean four or more GOP Senate pickups, moving into the bluer parts of the map.