For the second week in a row, we have no concrete changes in our Senate ratings. However, we do want to keep readers appraised of which Senate races we are keeping an eye on for future ratings updates.
In Alaska, we are taking a similar position to the one we have in South Carolina. The polling shows Democratic candidate (technically independent) Al Gross trailing incumbent Dan Sullivan by low to mid-single digits. Trump won Alaska by 14%, although it is more elastic downballot. That being said, we have not seen any high-quality polls show Gross ahead. Like South Carolina, The New York Times will be polling the state this week. If that poll shows a close race, we will consider moving the race out of the Likely Republican column.
In Kansas, we are also sticking with our rating of Likely Republican. There is a dearth of non-partisan polls in the race at the moment, but we don’t see the fundamentals as favorable to Bollier. Trump won Kansas by 20%, and he will likely win it by double digits this time as well. Bollier, who has never run statewide before, would need to get an incredibly large number of crossover votes. Elections Daily views this as a feat she is very unlikely to accomplish.
Michigan’s Senate race has recently seen an influx of spending, and it’s not hard to see why. Recent polling has shown a tightening race in one of the few pickup opportunities the GOP has. A NYT/Siena poll that was dropped today showed incumbent Democratic Gary Peters with a slim one-point lead; in contrast, Biden led in the state by eight. This is a jaw-dropping figure at first glance.
We’re keeping a very close eye on this race, but at the moment we feel like Peters remains the favorite. Most of the undecided voters in this poll were people of color, and James isn’t necessarily outrunning Trump. However, this is clearly one of the most competitive races in the country right now. We’ll be watching to see if James can continue to pull closer to an upset here.
In South Carolina, polls have been tight between incumbent Republican Lindsay Graham and challenger Jamie Harrison. While other outlets have moved the race to Lean Republican or Tossup, we are keeping it at Likely Republican for the time being. We rate races based on the likelihood of a certain outcome, not what we predict the final margin will be. We do think the race will be close, but we simply don’t see anything but a very narrow path for Harrison.
South Carolina is still an inelastic state with a low number of swing voters. The ancestrally Democratic white, rural parts of the state shifted to voting straight-ticket Republican long ago. There are more moderate, college-educated suburbs, but they are generally centered around smaller metro areas and are quite politically conservative. However, The New York Times is polling the state this week. If that poll shows a close race, we will re-asses our rating accordingly.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said that Joe Biden led by 10 points in Michigan. It has been corrected to say he leads by eight points.