Politics

Senate Heading Toward 50-50 Split

An analysis of the most recent polls in Senate races nationwide indicates that if the election were held today, the Senate would return to a 50-50 split.

The polls, of course, may not be accurate, and some of them are more than a month old. But they are a rough indicator that the country is headed toward an extremely close election in November, in which Republicans may be fortunate to hold onto the Senate by the slightest of margins.

The GOP currently enjoys a 55-to-45 majority in the Senate, with Sen. James Jeffords (Vt.), the former Republican who became an Independent in 2001 caucusing with 44 Senate Democrats. The most recent polls indicate that Democrats are leading in races against five endangered Republican incumbents: Jim Talent (R.-Mo.), Conrad Burns (R.-Mont.), Mike DeWine (R.-Ohio), Rick Santorum (R.-Pa.) and Lincoln Chafee (R.-RI). By contrast, no Republican Senate candidate is leading in any race for a seat currently held by a Democrat.

In 2000, after the election resulted in a 50-50 Senate, Vice President Dick Cheney had to cast the tie-breaking vote in early 2001 to maintain Sen. Trent Lott (R.-Mass.) as majority leader. But on June 5, 2001, when Jeffords made his party switch, Sen. Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) was elected majority leader. In 2002, Senate Republicans made a slight comeback, winning 51-to-49 control of the Senate. In 2004, the Republicans expanded their majority to 55.

In the chart below, incumbents are listed in bold. Five Senate races are not listed because the incumbents do not face viable challengers and there has been no public polling in the race. Those incumbents are: Tom Carper (D.-Del.), Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.), Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.), Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), and Trent Lott (R.-Miss.). In Hawaii’s Senate race, the only Republican has withdrawn and incumbent Sen. Daniel Akaka (D.) faces a primary challenge from incumbent Rep. Ed Case (D.).

STATE CANDIDATE % IN POLL MARGIN OF ERROR
REPUBLICANS LEADING
ARIZONA* Jon Kyl (R.) 45% +/-3.9% 1
Jim Pederson (D.) 27%
MAINE Olympia Snowe (R.) 68% +/-5% 2
Jean Hay Bright (D.) 10%
NEVADA* John Ensign (R.) 49% +/-4.3% 3
Jack Carter (D.) 35%
TENNESSEE Bob Corker (R.) 49% +/-4% 4
Harold Ford (D.) 36%
TEXAS Kay Bailey Hutchison (R.) 52.2% +/-3.7% 5
Barbara Ann Radnofsky (D.) 36.7%
UTAH Orrin Hatch (R.) 63% +/-3.3% 6
Pete Ashdown (D.) 21%
VIRGINIA George Allen (R.) 48% +/-4% 7
Jim Webb (D.) 32%
WYOMING* Craig Thomas (R.) 59% +/-4.5% 8
Dale Groutage (D.) 32%
DEMOCRATS LEADING
CALIFORNIA Dianne Feinstein (D.) 56% +/-3.8% 9
Dick Mountjoy (R.) 34%
FLORIDA* Bill Nelson (D.) 61% +/-2.5% 10
Katherine Harris (R.) 24%
Bill Nelson (D.) 58% +/-2.7% 11
Pete Monroe (R.) 21%
Bill Nelson (D.) 57% +/-2.7% 12
LeRoy Collins, Jr. (R.) 20%
Bill Nelson (D.) 56% +/-2.7% 13
William McBride (R.) 25%
HAWAII* Daniel Akaka (D.) 51% +/-5.3% 14
Ed Case (D.) 40%
MARYLAND* Kweisi Mfume (D.) 49.8% +/-4% 15
Michael Steele (R.) 41.2%
Ben Cardin (D.) 47% +/-4% 16
Michael Steele (R.) 36%
MICHIGAN Debbie Stabenow (D.) 52% +/-3% 17
Mike Bouchard (R.) 36%
MINNESOTA* Amy Klobuchar (DFL) 49.4% +/-4.2% 18
Mark Kennedy (R.) 42.9%
MISSOURI Claire McCaskill (D.) 49% +/-3.5% 19
Jim Talent (R.) 42%
MONTANA Jon Tester (D.) 43% +/-2.8% 21
Conrad Burns (R.) 42%
NEBRASKA Ben Nelson (D.) 57% +/-4.5% 22
Pete Ricketts (R.) 31%
NEW JERSEY Robert Menendez (D.) 44.8% +/-3.9% 23
Tom Kean, Jr. 39%
NEW MEXICO Jeff Bingaman (D.) 53.9% +/-4.3% 24
Allen McCullough (R.) 31.5%
NEW YORK* Hillary Rodham Clinton (D.) 53.7% +/-3.6% 25
John Spencer (R.) 34.2%
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D.) 58% +/-2.8% 26
KT McFarland (R.) 31%
OHIO Sherrod Brown (D.) 45% +/-2% 27
Mike DeWine (R.) 37%
PENNSYLVANIA Bob Casey (D.) 50% +/-3% 28
Rick Santorum (R.) 40%
RHODE ISLAND* Sheldon Whitehouse (D.) 38% +/-3.5% 29
Lincoln Chafee (R.) 37%
Sheldon Whitehouse (D.) 55% +/-3.5% 30
Stephan Laffey (R.) 25%
VERMONT* Bernie Sanders (D.) 56% +/-4% 31
Richard Tarrant (R.) 35%
WASHINGTON Maria Cantwell (D.) 48% +/-3% 32
Mike McGavick (R.) 44%
WEST VIRGINIA Robert Byrd (D.) 59% +/-4.9% 33
John Raese (R.) 30%
WISCONSIN* Herb Kohl (D.) 68% +/-4% 34
Dave Redick (L.) 15%
Herb Kohl (D.) 63% +/-4% 35
Robert Lorge (R.) 14%
INDEPENDENT LEADING
CONNECTICUT Joe Lieberman (I.) 51% +/-2% 36
Ned Lamont (D.) 27%
*Primary has not yet been held.

Dates of primaries:

  • Nevada: August 15
  • Wyoming: August 22
  • Florida: September 5
  • Delaware: September 12
  • Arizona: September 12
  • Maryland: September 12
  • Minnesota: September 12
  • New York: September 12
  • Rhode Island: September 12
  • Vermont: September 12
  • Wisconsin: September 12
  • Massachusetts: September 19
  • Hawaii: September 23
  1. Behavior Research Inc. 7/8-21
  2. Strategic Marketing Services 7/14-21
  3. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  4. Mason-Dixon Polling Research 7/17-19
  5. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  6. Dan Jones & Assoc. 7/14-20
  7. Mason-Dixon 7/25-27
  8. Rasmussen 7/6
  9. Field 7/10-23
  10. Quinnipiac University 7/19-24
  11. Quinnipiac 6/20-26
  12. Quinnipiac 6/20-26
  13. Quinnipiac 6/20-26
  14. Ward Research 6/21-27
  15. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  16. Potomac Inc. 7/6-10
  17. Strategic Vision 7/21-23
  18. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  19. Research 2000 6/19-22
  20. Lake Research 6/20-26
  21. Rasmussen 7/11
  22. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  23. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  24. Wall Street Journal/Zogby 7/11-19
  25. Quinnipiac 6/12-19
  26. Columbus Dispatch 7/11-20
  27. Strategic Vision 7/14-16
  28. Brown University 6/24-26
  29. Brown University 6/24-26
  30. American Research Group 7/26-27
  31. Strategic Vision 7/21-23
  32. RMS Strategies 5/22-24
  33. University of Wisconsin 6/23-7/2
  34. University of Wisconsin 6/23-7/2
  35. Quinnipiac 7/13-18


Sign Up