The focus on a tightening presidential race should not obscure the fact that the fight for control of the U.S. Senate is getting pretty tense as well.
The authoritative Cook Report’s Jennifer Duffy now rates no less than seven Senate races (in Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) as toss-ups. Only one of those seven seats (Nevada) is currently held by a Democrat, and there is one other Republican seat almost certain to flip (Illinois). Thus, unless something changes at the last minute, the possible outcomes range from a 54-46 Republican majority (where we are currently) if the GOP sweeps the toss-ups to a 53-47 Democratic majority if that party sweeps the toss-ups. The precise number each party needs for control depends, of course, on who wins the vice-presidency and obtains the tiebreaking vote.
The consequences of Senate control vary, of course. A Republican Senate with Donald Trump in the White House might enact sweeping legislation. A Democratic Senate with Hillary Clinton in the White House might at least confirm a lot of judicial and executive-branch appointees. Now that the odds of a Democratic House have faded, that’s about as far as we can go in envisioning the future. Though it is a reasonably safe bet that the party controlling the White House next year will be on its heels when the 2018 midterms come along. If that’s the Democrats, they already have a very difficult Senate landscape in 2018, so if they are celebrating with a President-elect Clinton next Tuesday night, they better enjoy it while it lasts.