Republicans hold 53 Senate seats, meaning Democrats need to flip at least three of them, or four if President Trump is re-elected, to strip Mr. McConnell of his majority leader title. But Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, a Democrat, is facing a difficult race for re-election in his heavily Republican state, so Democrats may very well need to pick up five other seats.
Over the past week, the two main super PACs supporting Democratic and Republican candidates for the Senate have made a combined $140 million in advertising reservations for the fall, and where they’re spending tells us where party insiders believe the battle for the Senate will be fought: in North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, Colorado and Maine.
At the moment, the most expensive of those races is in North Carolina, where Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican freshman, is facing a challenge from Cal Cunningham, an Army veteran and Democratic former state senator. Senate Majority PAC, the group supporting Democrats, announced this week that it would make a $25.6 million reservation in the state. Senate Leadership Fund, the Republican-aligned super PAC, had booked nearly $22 million the week before.
Before the two groups began spending, North Carolina had already seen an influx of money, largely from other Democratic groups. Of the $20 million spent already in the North Carolina Senate race, $16 million came from Democratic groups, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.
Democrats have not even selected a challenger in Iowa yet — the state’s Senate primary is set for June 2, though Theresa Greenfield, a businesswoman, was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Even so, both parties view Senator Joni Ernst, another Republican freshman, as potentially vulnerable. Senate Majority PAC announced a $13 million buy for the fall, while the Senate Leadership Fund reserved roughly $12 million in airtime to support Ms. Ernst.