The Senate landscape looks different from the last time there was a Supreme Court fight, just before the 2018 midterms. Two years ago, Democrats were on defense, and at least three of their red-state incumbents couldn’t overcome a highly partisan confirmation nationalizing their races.
It’s possible Maine, which is No. 5 on the list, and North Carolina, which is No. 4, could soon switch places. If the Supreme Court vacancy does push voters deeper into their partisan corners, that could spell good news for North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, but bad news for Collins, who’s already alienated moderates and independents with her support for Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and isn’t likely to enamor herself with conservatives by saying a Trump nominee shouldn’t be confirmed before the election.
One change from late August: Montana is now ahead of Georgia in likelihood that it’ll flip control — largely because of candidate matchup and the uncertainty of a runoff in the Peach State — but a sustained Supreme Court fight could reverse that shift given that Montana is still a red state, while Georgia is looking increasingly purple.
Kansas still does not make the list, but more than some of the other Democratic “reach seats,” the Sunflower State may deserve an honorable mention. Republican outside groups are continuing to have to spend money they should be spending elsewhere to boost the GOP nominee, who’s facing a former Republican. However, this is one of the red so-called firewall states where Republicans think their candidates will be boosted by increasing partisan feelings around the Supreme Court.
The bottom line: there’s plenty of speculation about how the struggle over the court will shape the race for the Senate, but it’s still too early to know how Ginsburg’s death is moving specific contests. That’s why CNN’s ranking of the top 10 Senate races remains largely unchanged since late August, when the political conventions had just ended and America was on the cusp of the traditional fall campaign season. A lot has happened since then — and undoubtedly a lot will happen between now and Election Day.
With just more than five weeks to go, here are the seats most likely to flip control:
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Doug Jones
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Cory Gardner
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Martha McSally
4. North Carolina
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Thom Tillis
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Susan Collins
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Joni Ernst
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Steve Daines
Incumbent: Republican Sen. David Perdue
9. South Carolina
Incumbent: Sen. Lindsey Graham
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Gary Peters
This story has been updated with additional reporting.