20 Key Races to Watch on Election Day Besides Trump vs. Clinton
The direction of the country could rest with these six Senate races.
The past year of political coverage may have made you feel like this election is all about the main event: Donald J. Trump versus Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Sure, in the center ring, Trump and Clinton are sparring for the championship title of POTUS.
But the future of the country hinges not just on the presidential race but a slew of Senate, House, and state-level races that get far less attention in the weeks leading up to election day, on November 8.
We looked to two political forecasting groups, the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Sabato’s Crystal Ball, to find out which down-ballot races to watch on election night. Be sure to keep an eye on the races below to see how they help determine the real outcome of this election.
The 2016 election could see the Senate flip from Republican control to Democratic control if the Democrats win four additional seats, which could affect which laws get passed, how they are passed, which Supreme Court nominees are confirmed, and how much of the next president’s agenda is accomplished.
Here are six of the closest senate races to watch on November 8. If each party gets three, the Senate could have a 50/50 split between each party, which would give the vice president the tie-breaking vote.
New Hampshire: Democrat Maggie Hassan pulled ahead of Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte with just two weeks to go until Election Day. This race looks like it could be one of the seats Democrats need to win Senate control.
Missouri: Republican Sen. Roy Blunt is trying to defend his seat from newcomer Jason Kander, the secretary of state. The state has shifted from solidly Republican to a toss-up state that only leans Republican in recent weeks, according to Cook, and Fortune predicted that this race could decide Senate control.
Indiana: Democrat Evan Bayh, who is both a former Indiana governor and a former senator, is running against Republican Rep. Todd Young, and narrowly leads him the polls two weeks before election day.
Nevada: Republican Congressman Joe Heck is narrowly leading Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
North Carolina: Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr has a slight lead over Democratic Deborah Ross.
Pennsylvania: Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democrat Katie McGinty are in a tight race in Pennsylvania.
The House of Representatives is projected to remain in Republican control. Democrats would need to win an additional 30 seats to gain control, but most of the 37 seats that are up for election lean Republican, according to the Cook Political Report.
Still, even if the Republicans maintain control of the House but lose a few seats to Democrats, the GOP may have to negotiate more across the aisle to get enough votes to pass legislation, which could mean a thawing of relations between the two parties.
The House seats that are rated as “toss-up” by Cook and are ones to watch on election night include:
Arizona’s 1st District: Current Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, chose to run for Senate, so her seat has become available. Democrat Tom O’Halleran will face off against Paul Babeu, and while he has a slight lead in the polls, he will have to win for the Democrats to hang onto the seat.
Nebraska’s 2nd District: Democratic incumbent Brad Ashford will try to hang onto his seat against Republican Don Bacon.
Florida’s 7th District: Incumbent Republican John Mica is predicted to be vulnerable against Democrat Stephanie Murphy.
Michigan’s 1st District: Since Republican incumbent Dan Benishek decided not seek re-election, this open seat is a toss-up between Republican Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps general, and state Democratic Party leader Lon Johnson.
New Jersey’s 5th District: Republican incumbent Scott Garrett is running for re-election, but is considered to be vulnerable to a challenge by Democrat Josh Gottheimer.
California’s 49th District: The Republican incumbent, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, will face Douglas Applegate in the election. President Obama has intervened in the campaign, saying Issa was someone who is “not serious” and obstructed progress.
Indiana’s 9th District: Congressman Todd Young, a Republican, is running for Senate this year, leaving his Congressional seat open. Republican Trey Hollingsworth will face Democrat Shelli Yoder.
Virginia’s 10th District: Virginia's 10th Congressional District is a considered a battleground district this year with Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock facing Democrat LuAnn Bennett.
There are 12 races for governorships, half of which are toss-ups, according to Cook Political report.
Vermont: Three-term Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin decided not to seek reelection, partially due to falling poll numbers and voter discontent over the state’s economy, leaving this typically blue state up for grabs. Democratic nominee Sue Minter will run against Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.
North Carolina: Cook Political Report calls incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, the “most vulnerable” governor seeking re-election across the country. McCrory has become controversial for his stance on LGBT rights, including enacting the trans bathroom ban. He is running against four-term state Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Indiana: After Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was plucked to run with Donald Trump on the presidential ticket, the governor’s race became an open, and competitive — one. Cook rates it a toss-up between Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and former Speaker of the State House Democrat John Gregg.
Missouri: Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster will face former Navy Seal and Rhodes Scholar Eric Greitens.
New Hampshire: New Hampshire’s Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan decided to run for the Senate this year against incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (see above), leaving her state’s top spot open. Republicans hold control of both houses in the state legislature, but Dems have had the governorship since 2005. Two state legislators are running: Republican Chris Sununu and Democrat Colin Van Ostern.
West Virginia: After 15 years with a Democratic as governor, the top job in West Virginia is open this year. The Democratic nominee is a billionaire business owner named Jim Justice, who owns some 47 companies including coal mines and resorts in West Virginia. He’s self-funded his own campaign against Republican Senate President Bill Cole, who wants to reform state government and economic development.