The balance of the US Senate is in question. As the election begins, the Senate is controlled by the Republican Party 54-46. In a year with a presidential election to increase Democratic voter turnout and a year with more Republicans defending seats than Democrats, the natural tendency is to favor Democrats to pick up seats.
UPDATE — RESULTS: Democrats will not take the Senate. Only two seat seats in question flipped. The split is now Republican 52, Democrat 48, after adding Louisiana for Republicans on December 9.
In contrast, 2018 is a natural Republican year. Then, there will be no presidential election, and there will be more Democrats defending seats. The 2016 race is exciting because the odds of Democrats taking the Senate appears to be slightly over fifty-fifty. If the Democrats pick up control of the Senate this year, it is unlikely they will be able to keep it after 2018. For the Democrats now, it is do or die.
Here is the map of results as they come in. The bright blues and reds indicate election results. The brightest colors indicate flipped states. More explanation below.
Blue is for Democrats. Red is for Republicans. Each color comes in four shades:
- Very Light — seat was held by the party that could flip in a competitive race
- Light — seat was held by the party that is not likely to flip
- Medium — seat retained by the party that did not flip
- Bright — seat flipped from one party to the other
With this color scheme, it is easy to see which elections have been decided and which have flipped. As we start out, California is already colored medium blue because the state was held by a Democrat and will not flip. California had a “jungle primary” and the top two winners were both Democrats. They will now face off against each other in the general election.
Louisiana also has a “jungle primary” which takes place on Election Day for this open seat. The final general election for Senator from Louisiana occurs December 10. If the top two vote winners are from the same party (as happened in California), then the state color will be updated. For now, Louisiana gets its own middle light red color because the seat is held be a Republican.