By Jim Ellis
June 29, 2020 — As many pollsters have done, Siena College and their New York Times polling partner just released survey data for the Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina Senate races. This is largely because those three states have attracted much attention in the Democrats’ battle to topple the Republican majority.
But a group of four other states may be a better indicator of whether the Senate will flip in November, and all are competitive.
As Siena/NYT found, Democrats Mark Kelly and Sen. Gary Peters are maintaining an approximate 10-point lead in their respective contests in Arizona and Michigan. The North Carolina race, as it typically does, will generally sway between a one to four-point edge for either candidate depending upon the pollster and the time in which the specific survey was conducted. In the Siena/NYT poll, Democrat Cal Cunningham holds a tenuous three percentage point lead over Sen. Thom Tillis (R). During the same polling period as S/NYT (June 8-18), Gravis Marketing (June 17) found Sen. Tillis ahead by one point.
The GOP majority firewall, however, contains four other states. If the Republicans, likely now in the person of retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, converts the Alabama seat, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Steve Daines (R-MT) all win their respective campaigns, the Democrats’ road to majority control becomes rocky. Therefore, watching this quartet of states should provide us a better clue as to which party will control the Senate in the new Congress.
Since February, 14 polls have been released in Arizona and 12 in North Carolina according to the Real Clear Politics polling archives. The Michigan total is 13 and began in March.
In the four actual firewall states, however, little polling attention has been paid. Since February, the Alabama and Maine Senate races have seen just three public polls, apiece. Montana has been surveyed three times since March, and Iowa four from April to the present time.
Let’s now look at the path to the majority if the Republicans win and/or hold their four firewall states. In summary, Alabama must first be converted back to the Republican column. This brings the GOP majority to 54. Additionally, the 54 number must include incumbent victories for Sens. Collins, Ernst, and Daines.