News & Politics

Three Pivotal Senate Races Too Close to Call

U.S. Senate candidates, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., left, and U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., prepare their remarks in a television studio prior to a televised debate, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The latest CBS Battleground Tracking poll shows incredibly tight Senate races in three states that both sides need for control of the Senate.

Two of those states — Indiana and Florida — are currently held by Democrats, while the GOP is defending their own turf in Arizona. Polls from all three races are within the margin of error, meaning the candidates are virtually tied.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott is in a dead heat with incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

In Florida, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott are tied among likely voters, 46 percent to 46 percent including those who have cast ballots already. Scott, the sitting governor, gets positive marks from voters on his handling of the recent hurricane and benefits from Republicans reporting that they’re more likely to vote than the Democrats who haven’t already.

Nelson’s support, meanwhile, is underpinned by voters who place health care atop their issues list. The Republicans have a favorable map in their effort to hold their Senate majority, and winning two or three of these states would probably put them in strong position to hold it. Democrats would probably need wins in all three to have a good shot at taking the Senate.

The 76-year old Nelson has not enthused the Democratic base as candidates have in other states. Scott has a distinct advantage, but Nelson is an old political hand, having run for governor back in 1990. It’s a simple formula to be repeated across the country on election day: whoever is most successful at turning out their base of supporters will win.

Meanwhile, Indiana features a fascinating race between incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly and a big Trump supporter, Mike Braun. Trump is popular in Indiana and Braun has tied himself to the president tightly.

But Republican chances of holding on to their Senate majority – or even adding to it – are helped by the prospect of picking up a seat in Indiana, where Republican Mike Braun leads incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly, 46 percent to 43 percent. In Indiana, where many voters say that agriculture plays a role in their economy, three-quarters of Republicans feel that new tariffs will ultimately lead to better trade deals for the U.S.

Finally, in Arizona, Democrat “moderate” Kyrsten Sinema is in a barnburner with former fighter pilot Rep. Martha McSally. The polls have Sinema up by 3 points, well within the margin of error. Her radical past as an anti-war activist isn’t playing well in Arizona, but she is bolstered by Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List. McSally has Trump’s support as outside money is pouring into the state. If Democrats are to have any shot whatsoever of taking the Senate, this is a must-win for them.

Results from Florida and Indiana should be in within an hour or two of the polls closing in those states, so it’s likely we’ll know fairly early if Democrats have a chance at control or Republicans maintain their advantage.