2016 Senate Overview: Playing Field Comes Into Focus

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Nathan L. Gonzales July 24, 2015 · 2:30 PM EDT

In the dog days of summer of the off-year, Republicans and Democrats are knee-deep in candidate recruitment, fundraising, and opposition research leading into battle for the Senate in 2016.

With well over a year before Election Day, the Senate playing field is starting to take shape, as the fight for the majority is likely to come down to as few as six to as many as a dozen states. 

In the narrowest potential playing field, Democrats need to win five of six states out of Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio, if they hold the White House. If they lose the presidential race, Democrats would need to sweep all six.

If Democrats successfully recruit quality challengers in New Hampshire and North Carolina, and Republicans come through on their promise to keep Colorado competitive, Democrats would have a little more room for error. They would need to win six of the the nine most competitive states with the White House, or seven of the nine most competitive states with a Republican president for a Senate majority.  

The broadest playing field would also include Arizona, Indiana, and Missouri. But if Republicans are in serious danger of losing any of those races, most of the more vulnerable senators are likely gone and Democrats should be in the driver’s seat…

2016 Senate Overview (July 24, 2015) Alabama - Kansas

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July 24, 2015 · 2:29 PM EDT

ALABAMA – Richard Shelby (R) elected 1986 (50%), 1992 (65%), 1998 (63%), 2004 (68%), 2010 (65%). Shelby continues to stockpile money for a future institute for politics at the University of Alabama when he leaves office. The senator had $18.8 million in his campaign account at the end of June and…

2016 Senate Overview (July 24, 2015) Kentucky - New Mexico

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July 24, 2015 · 2:28 PM EDT

KENTUCKY – Rand Paul (R) elected 2010 (56%). This race is complicated by Paul’s run for president and Kentucky’s state elections this year. 

State law prohibits Paul from running for president and re-election simultaneously, but, next month, the state party is likely to switch from a May…

2016 Senate Overview (July 24, 2015) New York - Wyoming

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July 24, 2015 · 2:27 PM EDT

NEW YORK – Chuck Schumer (D) elected 1998 (55%), 2004 (71%), 2010 (66%). It took Schumer a few hours to wrap up the leadership race after Harry Reid announced his retirement. Now, Schumer will run for re-election and be the next Democratic leader in the Senate. The only question is whether he will…