Why the possibility of Democrats winning back the Senate is looking stronger than ever

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

There's a chance Democrats may have a unilateral hold on the federal government come fall.

Former Vice President Joe Biden keeps topping national and statewide polls. Democrats already hold the House and will likely widen their majority. And in the Senate, where Democrats need three seats to win the majority, July ratings changes from The Cook Political Report predict they have a good chance of doing so.

The Cook Political Report moved seats in New Mexico and Minnesota, currently held by Democrats, from likely Democratic into the solid blue field in a Thursday report. Sen. Martha McSally's (R-Ariz.) seat moved from a toss up to a likely win for Democrat Mark Kelly, and Georgia and Iowa's Republican-held spots are now toss-ups, Cook predicts. Four other Republican-held seats are considered toss ups as well, and just one would negate a likely loss for Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

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A look at history and ad spending only adds to the Democrats' case. While the Senate hasn't flipped in the same year as a presidential election since 1980, today's more polarized environment makes it unlikely voters will split their ballot between Biden and a Republican Senate candidate. Meanwhile 97.7 percent of Democratic spending is offensive — to make gains in places they don't currently control — while 96.6 percent of GOP spending has been defensive.

Even Republican strategists tell Cook they're worried. "Something remarkable would have to happen for Republicans to still have control of the Senate after November," one GOP pollster said. Another remarked that "If you're an incumbent in a bad environment sitting at 44 percent, you should be pretty damn scared." Read The Cook Political Report's extensive analysis of the 2020 Senate tossup here.

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