The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip

Five senators are staring down serious political danger ahead of the November elections.

With less than six months to go until Election Day, the battle for control of the Senate hinges on five key states. Democrats are after four seats in particular — in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina — while Republicans are largely playing defense, but see an easy pickup opportunity in Alabama.

A handful of seats in states like Iowa, Montana and Michigan are also showing signs they may be in play.

ADVERTISEMENT

Here are the Senate seats most likely to flip in 2020.

Doug Jones (D-Ala.)

Democrats are on the defensive in deep-red Alabama roughly three years after Jones defeated Republican Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreVulnerable Senate Democrat urges unity: 'Not about what side of the aisle we're on' Sessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed MORE in the state’s special election to replace former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs Ocasio-Cortez, Velázquez call for convention to decide Puerto Rico status White House officials voted by show of hands on 2018 family separations: report MORE. Jones was the first Democrat to win statewide office in Alabama since 2008 and the first Democrat to represent the state in the upper chamber since 1997.

Jones garnered about 50 percent of the vote in 2017, while Moore received about 48 percent. During the race, Moore had to contend with a cloud of controversy stemming from sexual assault allegations, which led to GOP leaders across the country calling for him to step down as the nominee.

However, Jones faces a totally different environment heading into the 2020 elections. The Cook Political Report rates the race “lean Republican” as Sessions and former Auburn University coach Tommy Tuberville battle it out ahead of the July 14 GOP runoff.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE, who has thrown his support behind Tuberville, is also popular in the state with a 53 percent approval rating, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Jones, on the other hand, had a 41 percent approval rating, according to a Morning Consult survey released in January.

ADVERTISEMENT

Still, Jones has had a successful streak of fundraising in recent quarters, giving him an advantage over the field of GOP candidates. He had over $8.2 million cash on hand at the beginning of April.

Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Gardner on court vacancy: Country needs to mourn Ginsburg 'before the politics begin' MORE (R-Colo.)

Gardner became the first challenger to unseat an incumbent in Colorado in roughly a generation when he defeated former Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic presidential race comes into sharp focus Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump MORE (D) in 2014.

But his state has shifted increasingly to the left in recent years. Former President Obama won the state twice in 2008 and 2012, and Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Warning signs flash for Lindsey Graham in South Carolina MORE carried it in the 2016 presidential election. In 2018, Democrats won control of the Colorado state Senate and held onto the governor’s mansion, giving them full control of the state government for the first time since 1936.

If that trend wasn’t enough to threaten Gardner’s prospects for a second term in the Senate, he faces an expectedly tough challenge from Colorado’s Democratic former governor, John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperGardner on court vacancy: Country needs to mourn Ginsburg 'before the politics begin' Vulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year GOP campaign director: 'There's no doubt that Republicans will control the Senate' MORE, who jumped into the race last summer after an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

There hasn’t been much polling in the race, but a survey from the Montana State University and the University of Denver conducted last month showed Hickenlooper with a 16-point lead over Gardner. Another Keating Research–OnSight Public Affairs–Melanson poll released earlier this month found Hickenlooper ahead by 18 points.

Hickenlooper out-raised Gardner in the first quarter of 2020, raking in nearly $4.1 million to his opponent’s $2.5 million. Still, Gardner has the overall cash-on-hand advantage with $9.6 million in the bank.

Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Vulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year MORE (R-Ariz.)

McSally already lost a Senate race in 2018, when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) eked out a narrow 2-point win. Only a few weeks after her loss, McSally was appointed to fill the seat of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day McConnell urges GOP senators to 'keep your powder dry' on Supreme Court vacancy McSally says current Senate should vote on Trump nominee MORE (R-Ariz.).

Now, a little more than a year after she entered the Senate, she’s facing a challenge from Democrat Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and gun control advocate who is seen as one of his party’s top recruits of the 2020 cycle. Kelly raised a staggering $11 million in the first three months of 2020 and has some $19.7 million on hand. By comparison, McSally reported $6.4 million raised in the first quarter and $10.3 million in the bank.

There are also signs that Kelly is widening his lead over McSally in the race. A survey from the polling firm OH Predictive Insights released this week showed Kelly leading McSally by 13 points — up from a 9-point lead in a similar poll conducted in April. Republicans are hoping to seize on questions about Kelly’s business record in an effort to weaken him ahead of November.

But unlike Colorado, where Democrats hold power at the state level, Arizona’s state government is largely controlled by the GOP. What’s more, Republicans have won every presidential election in the state since 2000, though Trump carried it in 2016 by a smaller margin than the three Republican nominees before him.

ADVERTISEMENT

Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day MORE (R-Maine)

The moderate Republican is also facing an uphill battle to defend her spot in the Senate. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Collins 3 points behind state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D), who is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

Additionally, polling shows Maine voters could be souring on the incumbent senator. A Bangor Daily News poll released in April showed Collins with a 37 percent approval rating and a 52 percent disapproval rating.

Collins has been viewed in the past as a critical Republican swing vote, voting against 2017 GOP legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. However, she has since received the ire of liberals for voting to confirm Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Remembering Ginsburg's patriotism and lifelong motivation Collins: President elected Nov. 3 should fill Supreme Court vacancy MORE to the Supreme Court in 2018 as he faced sexual misconduct allegations.

However, the race will not necessarily be a cakewalk for the Democrats if Gideon gets the nomination. Collins has represented the state in the Senate since 1997, giving her an incumbent advantage. Additionally, her decisions to side with the Trump administration on a number of issues may not play badly with all voters. The state went Democratic in the last three presidential elections, but elected conservative Gov. Paul LePage twice.

Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Vulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year MORE (R-N.C.)

ADVERTISEMENT

Tillis is locked in a true toss-up race to hold on to his Senate seat. The first-term senator is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham and polls show the two candidates in a dead heat.

One survey fielded by East Carolina University earlier this month showed Tillis narrowly leading Cunningham, 41 percent to 40 percent — well within the poll’s margin of error. But a Meredith College poll conducted late last month gave Cunningham a substantial lead in race, showing him ahead of Tillis, 44 percent to 34 percent.

Already, the race between Tillis and Cunningham is shaping up to be the most expensive Senate race of 2020. In March, the Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE (R-Ky.), booked nearly $22 million worth of fall advertising in the state, making up the largest part of a broader $67 million investment.

Soon after that, the Senate Majority PAC, the top super PAC backing Democratic Senate candidates, reserved $25.6 million in fall ads in the state. That was also the largest portion of a nearly $70 million investment by the group.

Cunningham led Tillis in fundraising in the first three months of the year, bringing in about $4.4 million to his opponent’s $2.1 million. But Tillis has more than twice as much cash on hand as Cunningham, reporting about $6.5 million in the bank at the end of March.

Also in play:

ADVERTISEMENT

Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day To honor Justice Ginsburg's legacy, Biden should consider Michelle Obama The Memo: Court battle explodes across tense election landscape MORE (R-Iowa)

For now, Ernst appears more likely than not to win a second term. But Democrats argue that the race is trending in their favor, pointing to polls fielded in recent months that show her approval rating ticking downward and The Cook Political Report’s decision in March to shift her race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.”

Polling in the race has been scarce, but one survey released earlier this month by the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling showed Ernst leading her top Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield by 1 point, tightening from 6 points in a similar poll fielded in December.

Ernst currently has the cash advantage over Greenfield. She raised $2.7 million in the first quarter of the year, while Greenfield raked in about $2.25 million. But in the pre-primary reporting period between April 1 and May 13, Greenfield raised about $1.5 million to Ernst’s $1.2 million. Still, Ernst leads in cash on hand, with about $7 million as of mid-May.

Kansas (Open)

The Cook Political Report rates the battle to replace retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill GOP senators say coronavirus deal dead until after election Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions MORE (R-Kan.) as “lean Republican.” However, the party will first have to contend with a crowded primary before taking on former Republican-turned-Democrat Barbara Bollier. There are currently six Republicans running in the contest, with former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - VP nominee Harris, VP Pence crisscross Wisconsin today GOP uses debunked theory to downplay COVID-19 death toll Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid MORE leading the way.

The primary’s outcome could be a deciding factor in the general election. If Kobach wins the primary, the news would likely be welcomed by Democrats. The former Kansas secretary of state does not have the support of the party’s establishment, and faced criticism from the National Republican Senatorial Committee after he announced his intent to run last year. Additionally, Kobach lost his last statewide race to Gov. Laura Kelly (D) in 2018. A poll released in April from Public Policy Polling showed Bollier beating Kobach by two points in a hypothetical match-up.

Meanwhile, a number of Republican leaders have signaled that they would be in favor of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump steps up Iran fight in final election stretch MORE, a former Kansas congressman, to run for the spot. McConnell has pushed Pompeo to consider the opportunity.

"There's not been a development yet,” McConnell told Politico. “But he would obviously be my first choice and he has been for months.”

Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerTrump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally Vulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year Georgia GOP Senate candidates cite abortion in pushing Ginsburg replacement MORE (R-Ga.)

The race for Loeffler’s seat is more complicated than others up for a vote in 2020. She was appointed late last year to replace retired Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGeorgia GOP Senate candidates cite abortion in pushing Ginsburg replacement Loeffler: Trump 'has every right' to fill Ginsburg vacancy before election Bottom line MORE (R-Ga.), but because the special election will be a “jungle primary," she’ll face multiple challengers in November, including from within her own party.

Her top challenger on the right is Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsVulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year Georgia GOP Senate candidates cite abortion in pushing Ginsburg replacement Win by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP MORE (R), a staunch Trump ally who leads Loeffler in most recent polls. At the same time, Loeffler has come under fire in recent months for her stock trades, which critics say appeared timed to avoid the economic turbulence brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Loeffler has denied wrongdoing, noting that her stock trades are made by a third-party adviser.

Meanwhile, national Democrats are backing the Rev. Raphael Warnock in the race for Loeffler’s seat. But there are other credible Democrats vying for the seat, including Matt Lieberman, an entrepreneur and the son of former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Under state rules, if no candidate scores at least 50 percent of the vote in the November all-party election, it will trigger a runoff election between the two top vote-getters, currently slated for January.

Democrats are more hopeful about their chances in a runoff election, believing it will allow them to consolidate support around a single candidate in a head-to-head match-up against a Republican.

Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesToobin: McConnell engaging in 'greatest act of hypocrisy in American political history' with Ginsburg replacement vote To honor Justice Ginsburg's legacy, Biden should consider Michelle Obama Senate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg MORE (R-Mont.)

Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockSenate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Pence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race Trump's fear and loathing of voting by mail in the age of COVID MORE (D) will likely take on Daines in that state’s Senate race, which The Cook Political Report rates “lean Republican.” However, Bullock was reelected to a second term as governor in 2016, the same year Trump won the state. Additionally, the state’s Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Filibuster fight looms if Democrats retake Senate MORE won reelection in 2018 by roughly 4 points.

Moreover, Bullock is leading the field in fundraising and polling. A Montana State University poll released earlier this month showed Bullock with 46 percent support in the state, while Daines garnered 39 percent support.

On the fundraising front, Bullock brought in $2.5 million over the past six weeks, while Daines raised $1.3 million in the same period. Bullock and Daines have raised a total of $5.8 million and $9.2 million, respectively, for their campaigns.

Gary PetersGary Charles PetersBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground states Postal service changes delayed 7 percent of nation's first-class mail: Democratic report GOP votes to authorize subpoenas, depositions in Obama-era probe MORE (D-Mich.)

Republicans are rallying around businessman John James in their bid to unseat Peters in November. James out-raised the first-term senator in the first quarter of the year, and Republicans are continuing to tout Trump’s unexpected victory in the state in 2016. However, James has never won a statewide election, losing to Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump rollbacks could add 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over 15 years: analysis | Intensifying natural disasters do little to move needle on climate efforts | Experts warn wildfire smoke could worsen COVID-19 GAO report finds brokers offered false info on coverage for pre-existing conditions Democrats back away from quick reversal of Trump tax cuts MORE (D-Mich.) in 2018.

Peters, on the other hand, has been a player in Michigan’s political scene for years. He was elected to the state Senate in 1994 before he went on to become a U.S. congressman in 2008. He was elected to the Senate in 2014.

Polling also shows Peters with a clear advantage. A Fox News poll released last month showed Peters leading James by 10 points. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democratic.”

Updated at 10:16 a.m.