9 Senate seats most likely to flip

The race for the Senate is heading into the homestretch as Republicans seek to maintain their grip on their slim majority.

Democrats must net five seats — or four and retain the White House — to regain control of the upper chamber. They are defending 10 seats, while Republicans face a more challenging path, needing to defend 24 seats.

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Here are the Senate seats most likely to flip:

1.  Illinois — Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R)

Kirk’s seat is most likely to turn blue this cycle. President Obama won the state by double digits in 2008 and 2012. He faces a formidable challenge from Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

Kirk has tried to capitalize on the workplace retaliation lawsuit against Duckworth when she served as head of the state’s Department of Veteran Affairs, but it has failed to gain steam, and the GOP senator, known for making gaffes, is catching flak for calling Obama a “drug dealer in chief” in regards to last month's $400 million payment to Iran.

2.  Wisconsin — Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (R)

Johnson is also viewed as one of the most vulnerable senators in his rematch with former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. Republican groups have scaled back funding as Johnson trails in the polls.

Conflicting polls released Wednesday, however, are a bright spot for Johnson. While one poll has him down 13 points, another has him trailing by only a few points. Both surveys show GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE closing the gap in Wisconsin, a sign the state is not entirely off the map.

3.  New Hampshire — Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford Pallbearers, speakers announced for McCain's DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony Tributes pour in for John McCain MORE (R)

Ayotte is expected to easily overcome her primary challenge in mid-September, but she faces an uphill battle against likely Democratic opponent Maggie Hassan. The New Hampshire governor holds a narrow lead over Ayotte in a state that Obama also carried in 2008 and 2012.

Ayotte has sought to distance herself from Trump, even as Hassan has tried to tie her to him.

Hassan, for her part, has campaigned with Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE but got tripped up when asked in an interview if she thinks Clinton is honest. The governor repeatedly dodged the question before clarifying in an interview the next day that she thinks she’s trustworthy.

4.  Pennsylvania — Pat Toomey (R)

The presidential race appears to be trickling into Toomey’s reelection. Political observers in the state say he’s running a strong campaign, but his dip in the polls is largely thanks to the top of the ticket.

Toomey continues to withhold his support from Trump. But his opponent, Katie McGinty, a little-known former gubernatorial chief of staff, has been helped by Clinton’s consistent lead over Trump in the Keystone State. McGinty has maintained a lead since mid-July, though one survey has Toomey up 7 points.

Toomey has clinched endorsements from gun control groups praising his 2013 bipartisan bill on background checks and has a strong cash advantage, but strategists see the race largely hinging on the top of the ticket.

5.  Indiana — Open seat (R)

Indiana makes its debut on the list after Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh’s last-minute bid for his old seat. It has prompted election handicappers to move the once safe GOP seat to a toss-up or Democratic-leaning.

Bayh has already made a splash with his $9 million war chest and has the benefit of name recognition, an issue that plagues his GOP opponent, Rep. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen MORE. Polls show Bayh comfortably ahead in the race to replace retiring Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal MORE.

But Bayh struggles with scrutiny over his residency. Republicans paint Bayh as a Washington lobbyist who has abandoned Indiana. In one interview, Bayh said he “sacrificed” moving to the wealthy D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown, and a CNN report found he’s classified as an “inactive” voter in Indiana.

Indiana would rank higher without a presidential race. Trump comfortably leads in Indiana, which has gone Democratic once in 52 years.

6.  Nevada — Open seat (D)

Nevada is one of Republicans' only real pick-up opportunities. The race for Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow Dems can’t ‘Bork’ Kavanaugh, and have only themselves to blame Dem senator: Confidential documents would 'strongly bolster' argument against Kavanaugh's nomination MORE’s seat has been relatively quiet with limited polling.

Reid has vowed to help keep the seat blue and elect former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. But Rep. Joe Heck is a strong GOP recruit who has kept the race a true tossup with a razor-thin margin. He has yet to be dragged down by Trump even in a state with a large Latino population.

7. North Carolina — Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas Graham: Mueller is going to be allowed to finish investigation Trump authorizes sanctions against foreign governments that interfere in US elections MORE (R)

Once low on the list, Burr’s race has been moved up as Republicans grow concerned about his reelection and both presidential nominees shift their attention and resources to the Tar Heel State.

Former state Rep. Deborah Ross wasn’t Democrats’ top recruit for the seat, but she’s proven to be a strong fundraiser and has started to cut into Burr’s polling lead as Clinton also performs well in the state. Both candidates will have to overcome a name recognition hurdle in the final two months.

8. Ohio — Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGraham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (R)

Portman is defying Trump’s down-ballot drag. While Clinton leads Trump by several points, the GOP senator tops former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) by as much as 15 points in the latest poll. His strong performance prompted groups from both parties to withdraw spending in the state and shift elsewhere.

It’s not just Portman’s polling advantage that has him well-positioned for November. He’s snagged four labor union endorsements that have backed Strickland in his previous races. And he’s kept up a cushy cash advantage as the former governor fails to make significant strides in his fundraising.

Portman and outside groups have inundated the airwaves with ads criticizing Strickland’s gubernatorial tenure, but the former governor recently hit back in his own ad that he led during the recession.

9. Florida — Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' For Poland, a time for justice Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh MORE (R)

Both Rubio and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) easily beat back primary challenges Tuesday and wasted no time attacking each other the following day.

Strategists expect the race to tighten by November, but as it stands, Rubio looks favored to hold onto his seat. He’s ahead in nearly every poll — and also outperforming Trump — and benefits from high name ID after his unsuccessful presidential run.

While Rubio breezed through his primary, Murphy has a few scars that will likely follow him into the general. Republicans continue to hammer him over reports he exaggerated parts of his resume and knock him for his father’s vast financial backing.

Honorable mentions:

Arizona — John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE (R): McCain cruised to victory in Tuesday’s primary. But the long-time senator faces his real test against Democratic Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickKirkpatrick makes comeback by winning Arizona Democratic House primary Live results: Arizona and Florida hold primaries Key races to watch as Florida, Arizona head to polls MORE. Democrats are tying McCain to Trump every chance they get in a state with a large Latino population. McCain has signaled he’s not taking anything for granted and came out of the primary swinging with a new ad that vows to be a check on Clinton.

Missouri — Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (R): Blunt is getting a tough challenge from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). Kander has proven to be a strong campaigner and fundraiser as one of Democrats’ top recruits. Blunt still leads in the polls, but at the top of the ticket, Clinton is polling close to Trump in the deep red state.

Colorado — Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Multiple NFL players continue on-field protests during national anthem MORE (D): Once viewed as one of the only ripe opportunities for Republicans, Bennet appears poised to sail to reelection. Republicans aren’t coming to the aid of Darryl Glenn, a county commissioner who trumpeted his conservative bona fides during the primary. But he’ll need to look beyond his base in a state that Obama carried twice and also has a large Latino population.