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These Are The Most Vulnerable Senate Seats In The 2020 Election

It’s been quite a year for many senators, from impeachment up to the potential Supreme confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Twenty-three Republican seats are up for re-election as well as 12 Democratic seats. Of these races, one Democratic seat is considered vulnerable, while several Republican seats are. 

Vulnerable, Likely Loss: Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) 

Senator Doug Jones was narrowly elected to his position in a special election back in 2017, when his opponent Ray Moore (R-AL) was accused of sexual misconduct, including cases from underaged girls. 

Though Alabama is a typically Republican state, these allegations were enough for a narrow election, one in which Senator Doug Jones ultimately came out on top. However, this also means that the 2020 election is not likely to go in his favor. 

Doug Jones is a committed Democrat in the Senate. Though he had plenty of opportunities this year to keep his Senate dreams alive (such as impeaching Trump or vowing to confirm Amy Coney Barrett,) Jones voted against Trump and has stuck firmly with his party, saying he does not want to confirm before the election. 

Jones’s opponent, Tommy Tuberville, is a football coach-turned-senate hopeful. Tuberville has been under fire for repeatedly quitting multiple coaching positions, but he still polls an average of 10-18 points higher than Jones. 

Vulnerable, Likely Loss: Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) 

Senator Martha McSally was appointed to the position following the death of Senator John McCain, an esteemed war veteran and long-time moderate Republican. Senator McCain was the primary reason why Donald Trump’s healthcare plan did not pass back in 2017. However, Senator McSally has been a close Trump aid. 

The last time Arizona elected a Senate official was back in 2016, where they voted Democrat Kyrsten Sinema into the Senate against Martha McSally. As Arizona leans more and more Democratic, residents have been unapproving of McSally’s vote against impeachment, her willingness to confirm a Justice, and other issues. Furthermore, because she wasn’t actually voted into office, she has little support. 

McSally is facing Captain Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut and Navy combat veteran. His stances are much more into trusting science, and, since he has veteran ties just like McSally, she won’t be gaining any extra points there. Kelly leads McSally by an average of 5-12 points. 

If McSally is voted out, due to her special appointment circumstances, Kelly could fill this Senate seat by November 30th, an additional blockade to Amy Coney Barett. 

Vulnerable, Likely Loss: Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) 

Senator Cory Gardner faces a tough uphill climb in Colorado, which has turned more Democratic since his election back in 2014. 

His hypocrisy in the Supreme Court has been one of his downfalls. In 2016, an election year, Gardner explicitly stated that the next president should fill the Supreme Court. 

But, Gardner’s biggest challenge may be his opponent, John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado. Hickenlooper is well-liked and well-respected by most Colorado residents. Hickenlooper has received a variety of endorsements from diverse parts of Colorado. He leads Gardner by an average of 7-15 points. 

Vulnerable, Leaning Loss: Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Senator Thom Tillis is a typical conservative, with voting aligning to Trump’s 93.4% of the time. Though not riddled with any serious allegations, North Carolina’s lean towards the Democratic side has made this seat potentially vulnerable. 

Tillis is committed to confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the election, though he contracted COVID-19 following her nomination gathering in the Rose Garden. 

Tillis faces a challenger in Democrat and veteran Cal Cunningham, who is running on a platform focused on getting healthcare to North Carolinians. Cunningham recently came under allegations for sexting another woman, but has said that he and his wife are working through shared issues. 

Despite these allegations, the latest polls still show Cunningham at least 10 points ahead of Tillis. However, these allegations may change the polling, meaning this race could be a closer toss up than expected. 

Vulnerable, Leaning Loss: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) 

Senator Susan Collins has been a long respected moderate Republican in Maine, who has served decades upon decades for the state. That was, of course, until the impeachment in 2020. Collins, who has been known for reaching across the aisle and occasionally siding with Democrats, went out and voted against removing Donald Trump from office. 

“The president has been impeached, that’s a pretty big lesson,” Collins went on to remark during an interview. That statement alone may have cost her the election, especially as Maine’s disapproval rating for President Trump sits comfortably above 50%

In an attempt to hold on to her seat, Collins recently committed to holding off on a Supreme Court confirmation until the end of the election. 

Collins also faces a battle with opponent Sara Gideon, Speaker of the House in the Maine House. Gideon’s focus is primarily on healthcare and women’s rights, and she’s a well-known figure in Maine, where she has traveled around campaigning for the last several months. Currently, Gideon leads Collins with an average of 4-8 points. 

Vulnerable, Potential Losses: Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (both R-GA) 

Senator Kelly Loeffler’s election is a special election, as she was appointed just in 2019 to fill Senator Johnny Isakson’s resignation. However, during the weeks prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Loeffler used her knowledge on the potential severity of the pandemic to prompt her to sell 18 million dollars in stocks. The suspicious behavior has made Georgia’s race tighter. 

Senator David Perdue is also up for re-election. Georgia has recently been turning more Democratic, and this has made this seat potentially vulnerable as well. He has been against healthcare, and has been hypocritical in wanting to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett

These two senators are both locked in tight races with their opponents, who currently both have leads over the two incumbents (though these gaps are only around 1-5 points.) 

Perdue Polls, Loeffler Polls

Vulnerable, Potential Loss: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 

Potentially one of the more shocking names on this list comes in the form of Lindsey Graham. As one of the most powerful Republican senators, in 2016, Graham was known as a staunch moderate, one who was heavily against Trump. 

A close ally to the late Senator John McCain, Graham consistently voted moderately and was known to call out GOP hypocrisy. That is, until he became the hypocrite himself. 

Graham has backed out of several anti-Trump positions to become one of his most staunch supporters. His promises have turned empty, from term limits to confirming justices. When he first started running, Graham committed to serving for no longer than 12 years (it’s been 24.) In an interview back in 2016, Graham spoke up, explicitly saying he would not confirm a Justice in the last year of Trump’s presidency. Now, in 2020, Graham is one of the main people pushing for a confirmation. Adding to the hypocrisy is Graham’s 2016 statement, which said, “use my words against me.”

Graham also faces a strong challenger in Jaime Harrison, the South Carolina Democratic Chair. Harrison is well known for reaching across the aisle and finding ways to connect Republicans and Democrats. 

Graham went onto Fox news multiple times, following Jaime Harrison’s impressive fundraising, in which he brought nearly 100 million dollars into his campaign. Graham told the Fox News anchor that “they’re killing me moneywise,” and “they hate my guts.” In other words, Graham is being out-fundraised, by a lot. 

In the Lindsey Graham Jaime Harrison debate, Harrison brought a plexiglass shield with him (to protect him from Graham’s potential COVID-19 exposure), in what was only the first of many damning convictions against Lindsey Graham. He used Graham’s 2016 Supreme Court commitment against him, and, when Graham called the Democratic Party “nuts,” Harrison brought up his record of reaching across the aisle, and pointed to this accusation as proof that Graham wasn’t the moderate Republican he once was. This performance raised Harrison an additional 1.5 million in less than 12 hours following the debate

Harrison and Graham are occasionally even in South Carolina, with a couple of 1-2 point margins on either side. 

If you live in one of these states, your Senate elections are considered some of the tightest in the nation, so go out there and cast your ballot! 

Photo: Phillip Goldsberry 

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 17 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba.

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