US election 2018: the race for Congress

The midterm elections will be a referendum on Trump and the Republican majority

 Thursday, 16 August 2018

Americans will head to the polls on November 6 to elect members for each of the 435 House seats and 34 of the 100 Senate seats. Republicans are hoping to maintain their majority in both houses. The stakes for President Donald Trump are extremely high since a Democratic victory in either chamber would give the party the power to open investigations into various aspects of his administration.

Coming up:
August 21 Alaska and Wyoming primaries
August 28 Arizona and Florida primaries; Oklahoma primaries runoff
September 4 Massachusetts primaries

What to watch

The President’s party usually loses seats in a midterm election, but Democrats are facing an uphill battle this year in both chambers of Congress.

House

  • All 435 seats are up for re-election
  • Democrats need 24 seats to flip the House
  • History suggests the GOP will struggle to maintain its majority
  • Turnout is expected to be key

Senate

  • 34 of 100 seats are up for re-election
  • Democrats are defending 26 of the 34 seats
  • Democrats need 2 seats to take the Senate
  • Republicans should have an easier time defending Senate majority

Predicted seat distribution in the 2018 election
House

  • All 435 seats are up for re-election
  • Democrats need 24 seats to flip the House
  • History suggests the GOP will struggle to maintain its majority
  • Turnout is expected to be key

Predicted seat distribution in the 2018 election
Source: Cook Political Report
Senate

  • 34 of 100 seats are up for re-election
  • Democrats are defending 26 of the 34 seats
  • Democrats need 2 seats to take the Senate
  • Republicans should have an easier time defending Senate majority

Predicted seat distribution in the 2018 election
Source: Cook Political Report
Source: Cook Political Report

House

The generic congressional ballot provides an estimate of which party voters plan to support in the midterm elections, based on the latest polling.

FT General Congressional poll tracker
FT General Congressional poll tracker

The generic ballot has historically been a good indicator of the overall result in the House. One of the key questions, however, is whether voter turnout on either side — Democrats sending a message to Mr Trump, or the president’s base rallying to his side — will be unusually high for the midterms.

Senate

The Democrats face a steeper climb in the Senate because they must defend all 26 of their seats up for election and take two seats from the Republicans in order to win a majority. Several of the seats they are defending, such as in West Virginia, are in states where Mr Trump won a large victory in the 2016 presidential race.

Missouri
(primary) More
Josh Hawley
Josh Hawley
+0.2
Claire McCaskill
Claire McCaskill
Incumbent

McCaskill is trying to defend her seat in a state that has become more Republican over time.

Florida
(primary) More
Rick Scott
Rick Scott
+1.2
Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson
Incumbent

Gov. Scott, who has been governor since 2011, presents a strong challenge to incumbent Nelson.

North Dakota
More
Kevin Cramer
Kevin Cramer
+0.5
Heidi Heitkamp
Heidi Heitkamp
Incumbent

Heitkamp is defending her seat in a state that Trump won by 36 points.

Tennesee
(primary) More
Phil Bredesen
Phil Bredesen
+1.6
Marsha Blackburn
Marsha Blackburn

Republican Bob Corker’s retirement opens an opportunity for former Gov. Bredesen to flip the seat.

Ohio
More
Sherrod Brown
Sherrod Brown
+15.4
Incumbent
Jim Renacci
Jim Renacci

Brown is trying to hold his seat in a state that Trump won by 8 points and was key to his victory.

West Virginia
More
Joe Manchin
Joe Manchin
+7.0
Incumbent
Patrick Morrisey
Patrick Morrisey

Manchin has been willing to side with Trump on some issues as he defends his seat.

Nevada
More
Jacky Rosen
Jacky Rosen
+0.6
Dean Heller
Dean Heller
Incumbent

Heller is trying to defend his seat in a state that Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016.

Arizona
(primary) More
Kyrsten Sinema
Kyrsten Sinema
Martha McSally
Martha McSally
Kelli Ward
Kelli Ward
Joe Arpaio
Joe Arpaio

GOP thinks McSally has the best odds of beating Sinema.

Indiana
More
Joe Donnelly
Joe Donnelly
Incumbent
Mike Braun
Mike Braun

Donnelly is trying to keep his seat in a state that Donald Trump won by 19 points.

Methodology: For every day since polling began for the 2018 midterms, all polls for which fieldwork was completed by this point are filtered so that only the most recent poll for each pollster is retained. Each of these remaining polls is then given a weight according to its recency, such that the newest polls are weighted the highest, older polls are weighted lower, and any poll that is 30 or more days old is given a weight of zero — excluding it from the resulting average. Based on these weights, the results of all remaining polls are then combined into one weighted score.

By Claire Manibog, Joanna S Kao, Cale Tilford, David Blood, John Burn-Murdoch and Chris Tosic.