Are Senate Republicans facing an election wipeout?

It's still a ways off, but Democrats are feeling very good about their chances of winning control of the U.S. Senate. Right now, they are four short of being the majority party. (That is, if Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe curious case of the COVID-19 origin Harris headlining Asian American Democratic PAC's summit Congress won't end the wars, so states must MORE wins the presidency and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Schumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections New York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  MORE, as vice president, therefore becomes president of the Senate and can break a tie vote.)

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Two Republican seats are widely viewed as definite losses: Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE of Illinois will get beaten by Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court sides with oil companies in Baltimore case| White House environmental justice advisers express opposition to nuclear, carbon capture projects | Biden administration to develop performance standards for federal buildings Sunday shows - Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate Ron Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown MORE of Wisconsin will lose to former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), a rematch of six years ago. Feingold seems to have regained his former magic.

The next Senate incumbent in deep trouble is Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Lobbying world Overnight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq MORE of New Hampshire. Right now, she is trailing Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) by a significant margin.

Pennsylvania is fundamentally a Democratic state, as former Gov. Ed Rendell (D) reminded me on the floor of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer. There are 900,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R) barely won the last time. He beat Democrat Joe Sestak by 2 percentage points. Clinton is running far ahead of GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE and just two years ago, the incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett was defeated by Democrat Tom Wolf. The tide is definitely running toward the Dems in the Keystone State.

Katie McGinty (D), Toomey's opponent, has never been elected to office before, but she has the backing of a united party and an opponent who is seen as too far to the right. If elected, McGinty would be the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate.

By my estimates, those four seats — Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania — are locks.

Now the question is: Are there even more seats that Democrats can pick up and help pad their margin? For the lack of a better term, I will call them "sleeper slots." By this, I mean seats that have not received a lot of attention, but will get our attention on the evening of Nov. 8.

The top of the list would be the contest in North Carolina. The incumbent is Republican Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTrump to speak at North Carolina GOP convention Romney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' GOP senator urges Biden to withdraw support for COVID vaccine patent waiver MORE; the Democratic candidate is Deborah Ross, a lawyer and a former state legislator. Burr was first elected in 2004. This is a guy who does not have much of a high profile in the Senate or, it seems, in his own state.

Obama won North Carolina in 2008; two years ago in an off-year election, Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump to speak at North Carolina GOP convention Senate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule MORE (R) barely beat Democratic incumbent Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganBiden's gun control push poses danger for midterms The two women who could 'cancel' Trump 10 under-the-radar races to watch in November MORE by 1.5 percentage points. Now with 2016 being a presidential election year, more Democrats will be registered and come out to vote. Clinton is doing well in the state, one that is becoming less rural and less conservative with the addition of new arrivals from the North. Ross is also doing everything she can to register and energize the African-American vote. All of this leads to a possible upset and a Democratic pick-up.

Another possible sleeper is Indiana, where Republican Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump MORE is retiring. Indiana is a conservative state: notably, Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBiden, Harris release 2020 tax returns Trump signals he's ready to get back in the game Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp defends Pence book deal: report MORE (R), Trump's running mate, was chosen for his pronounced and highly apparent conservative credentials. Obama won Indiana in 2008 but lost it in 2012. The Hoosier State does have a Democratic senator in Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE, but he was very lucky to have had a Republican opponent named Richard Murdoch, who said the following during the campaign: "[L]ife is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

However, Evan Bayh, the former Democratic senator and governor who left the Senate in 2011, has now decided to run again. His last name — his father was a prominent U.S. senator from the state — and his following is huge. Hoosiers will not turn Bayh down.

Other possible sleepers are former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) beating Republican Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border MORE in Ohio and Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Surgeon who treated Gabby Giffords after shooting launches House bid in Arizona These House lawmakers aren't seeking reelection in 2022 MORE (D) beating Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (R) in Arizona.

On their end, the Democrats look like they will not suffer any losses. Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats renew push for permanent child credit expansion The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma New York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  MORE is safely ahead in Colorado and Catherine Cortez Masto, running to replace retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidStrange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Bottom line Biden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump MORE (D-Nev.), will keep that seat in Democratic hands.

With 24 Republican seats up in 2016, there were bound to be some defeats, but with Trump at the top of the ticket, there will be more than anyone ever expected. Who knows — the 2017 U.S. Senate might have as many as 55 or 56 Democratic senators if senators like Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyConservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push MORE (Iowa) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race On The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week MORE (Mo.) lose in a wave.

2016 might go down as the year of the Republican wipeout.

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.