May 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

New polling shows warning signs for GOP-held Senate seats

Mitch McConnell looks to the left while standing at the podium

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A raft of new polls from states with competitive Senate races shows momentum veering away from Republican incumbents at a time when doubts are also growing about President Trump’s re-election prospects.

The big picture: To win control of the Senate, Democrats likely will have to flip five of eight competitive seats with a Republican incumbent. Of the six races with recent polling, Democrats lead in five and trail by just one point in the other.

Driving the news: Polls released Tuesday show Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) leading incumbent Sen. Steve Daines (R) by 7 points (sample size: 738) and North Carolina Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham beating Republican Sen. Thom Tillis by 9 points (sample size: 1,362).

Other recent numbers show an upward trend for Democrats:

What's going on: There are two main factors bolstering these Democratic candidates, Jessica Taylor of Cook Political Report tells Axios:

Between the lines: In the three states where Senate polling can be tracked before and during the crisis — Montana, North Carolina and Arizona — Democrats have gained ground in each.

  • Republican incumbents were outraised in Q1 in North Carolina, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, Maine and Georgia.

Yes, but: Democrats must also play some defense. Democratic Sen. Doug Jones' seat in Alabama, rated by Cook Political Report as "Lean Republican," presents the most likely flip for the GOP. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters is also trying to hold onto his job in Michigan (+6.8, per RCP).

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