The Rushmore Report – Predicting 2018 Senate Outcome, An Update

Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, we will continue to provide updates on the key senate races. With Republicans holding a slim 51-49 lead, races in 11 states are still up for grabs. At risk is the Trump agenda and future court nominations. With Vice President Mike Pence holding the tie-breaking vote, Republicans can afford no more than one net loss of one seat. So what will happen in the coming elections? Who will emerge with control of the Senate in 2019?

The short answer is, “It’s too close to call.”

My prediction is that Republicans will emerge with a shaky 52-48 lead, for a net gain of one seat.

In 11 races, polls give either candidate a legitimate hope for victory. These are those races.

States with incumbent Democrats: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

States with incumbent Republicans: Arizona, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas.

States especially close: Florida, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee.

If we assume that Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas remain in incumbents’ hands – all of which seem likely – the hold of the Senate will come down to those other seven states, four with incumbent Democrats and three with Republicans.

Based on all recent polling, trends, and historic voter turnout, here are my predictions for each of those seven states.

  1. Florida: Republican Rick Scott will unseat Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
  2. Indiana: Incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly will defeat Republican Mike Braun.
  3. Montana: Incumbent Democrat Jon Tester will defeat Republican Matt Rosendale.
  4. North Dakota: Republican Kevin Cramer will unseat incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.
  5. Arizona: Republican Martha McSally will defeat Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, holding the seat for Republicans.
  6. Nevada: Democrat Jacky Rosen will unseat incumbent Republican Dean Heller.
  7. Tennessee: Republican Martha Blackburn will defeat Democrat Phil Bredesen, holding the seat for Republicans.


  1. Democrats’ best case scenario: If each of the seven races go Democrat – which they could – Democrats will emerge with control of the Senate, 52-48.
  2. Republicans’ best case scenario: If each of the seven races go Republican – which they could – Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, 55-45.
  3. Most likely result: Democrats will pick up one seat in Nevada, while Republicans pick up seats in Florida and North Dakota. All other races will be won by incumbents. That will result in Republicans holding control of the Senate, with a net increase of one seat, 52-48.

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