April 2016 Senate Update

April 13th, 2016

U.S. Senate – April 2016 Update

Republicans currently hold 54 seats and must defend 10 of the 12 most competitive seats up for election, creating a major challenge to holding the Senate. Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, and New Hampshire are Republican seats characterized as Tossup or Tilt Democrat. Democrats are defending two vulnerable seats, Colorado and Nevada, though only Nevada is considered a Tossup.

The table below summarizes and aggregates ratings for the 12 most competitive Senate races of 2016. It utilizes the four most recognized, nonpartisan political newsletters to paint a complete picture of each race.

Senate Chart April 2016


Colorado’s crowded Senate race is moving towards a June 28th primary. The number of GOP candidates topped out at 13, but now only five remain. Four candidates – including Ryan Frazier, Robert Blaha, Jon Keyser, and Jack Graham – are hoping to make the ballot after submitting signature petitions. Darryl Glenn made the ballot by securing 70 percent of the vote at the state convention. These candidates will face a primary vote in the May primary. This race is rated Lean Democrat.


Republican Sharron Angle officially joined the race to replace Democratic Senator Harry Reid. Angle lost to Reid in 2010 by six points. In the Republican primary, she will face heavily favored Congressman Joe Heck. This race is rated Tossup.


The Ohio Senate race has solidified now that the primary has passed. Portman did not face a serious challenger in the primary. Democrat Ted Strickland handily beat Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in the primary with 65 percent to 22 percent.  Rob Portman has continued to post strong fundraising numbers in the first quarter of 2016 raising $2.4 million, with $13.5 million cash on hand. Strickland has not released fundraising numbers. This race is rated Tilt Republican.


Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is unchallenged in his primary. Democrats, meanwhile, still face a heated battle for their party’s nomination. A March 24th Franklin & Marshall Poll of the Democratic primary field found Joe Sestak leading Katie McGinty, who was endorsed by Obama, 31 percent to 14 percent. John Fetterman received only seven percent in the poll, with 46 percent unsure.

A March Harper Polling survey meanwhile, included hypothetical head to head match ups. Against Sestak, Toomey led 47 percent to Sestak’s 41 percent. Toomey led McGinty 47 percent to 39 percent. This race is rated Tilt Republican.


Ron Johnson’s bid for reelection had, until recently, been marked by polls showing him down by double digits in head-to-head match ups with Democratic challenger Russ Feingold. January’s Marquette Law poll showed Johnson at 37 percent to Feingold’s 50 percent. The March Marquette Law poll showed Feingold leading Johnson only 47 percent to 42 percent among registered voters and 48 percent to 45 percent among likely voters. This race is rated Tilt D.