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Ballotpedia's coverage of elections held on March 3, 2015, was limited. Select races were covered live, and all results will be added once the merger is complete.
United States Senate elections, 2014
Elections to the U.S. Senate will be held on November 4, 2014. A total of 33 of the 100 seats are up for regular election. Additionally, three special elections will take place in 2014 to fill vacancies that occurred in the 113th Congress (Hawaii, South Carolina and Oklahoma). These special elections will take place on November 4, 2014, for a total of 36 Senate elections.
Those elected to the U.S. Senate in the 33 regular elections on November 4, 2014, will begin their six-year terms on January 3, 2015.
The 2014 elections mark the 100th anniversary of the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. Prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913, U.S. Senators were selected by state legislatures.
As of March 2015, six senators have announced they will not be running for re-election, while four U.S. Senators resigned their posts early. This means that at least ten seats will have a different occupant in January 2015. In 2012, ten incumbent senators did not run for re-election, and twelve did not run for re-election in 2010.
According to a complex prediction model used by The Washington Post, Republicans have a 77 percent chance of winning the majority in 2014. Eight seats currently held by Democrats that are consistently ranked by outside ratings as either being toss-ups or Republican leaning include: West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska and Michigan.
This cycle, Republicans need to pick up six seats currently held by Democrats in order to gain a majority.
Four incumbent Democratic U.S. Senators have announced that they are not running for re-election in 2014, and the GOP is considered a favorite to pick up the seats they are leaving vacant. Three other states with Democratic U.S. Senators up for re-election in 2014 (Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina) are generally considered to have GOP-leaning electorates.
In 2012, the Democratic Party retained control over the chamber, winning 25 of the 33 seats. With Republican candidates winning only eight seats, this was the worst performance by a major party since the 1950s.
The following table displays the partisan composition of the U.S. Senate heading into the 2014 elections.
|U.S. Senate Partisan Breakdown|
|Party||As of 2014 Election||After the 2014 Election|
As of March 2015, six senators have announced they are not running for re-election in 2014. In addition to the following list, four senators left office early: Max Baucus (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). The deaths of Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and the early resignation of Coburn, will necessitate three special elections to be held with the 33 regular elections on November 4, 2014.
|Carl Levin||Democratic||U.S. Senator, Michigan|
|Jay Rockefeller||Democratic||West Virginia|
|Tim Johnson||Democratic||South Dakota|
|Tom Harkin||Democratic||U.S. Senator, Iowa|
According to OpenSecrets.org, below are the races that had the most outside spending by August 2014. They included the U.S. Senate races in North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas.
- Tom Cotton (R-AR) raised $2.28 million, compared to Sen. Mark Pryor's $1.5 million in the Arkansas Senate race.
- Mark Pryor (AR) raised $1.22 million compared to challenger Rep. Tom Cotton's $1.35 million
- Mark Begich (AK) raised $1.05 million compared to the $2 million raised by challenger, Dan Sullivan, during the same period.
An August 2013 Politico report reported that the 27 incumbents running for re-election in 2014 had together raised about $125 million by the end of June 2013. The report also found that 2014 had the potential to be the most expensive midterm election to date, pointing to the fact that the total amount raised for incumbents seeking re-election is $30 million more than at the same point in 2012 and on par with the amount they had raised in 2010.
The incumbents highlighted in the article were:
- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led in fundraising, having raised more than $15 million for the 2014 cycle
- Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Cornyn (TX) had raised more than $8 million in the 2014 cycle
- Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Pryor (AR) and Mary Landrieu (LA) had each raised between $4 million to $7 million in the 2014 cycle
- Mary Landrieu (LA) raised $1.2 million and had $3.5 million cash on hand
- Mark Pryor (AR) raised $1.9 million and had $3.4 million cash on hand
- Kay Hagan (NC) raised $1.6 million and had $2.7 million cash on hand
- Mark Begich (AK) raised $948,000 and had $1.5 million cash on hand
DSCC and NRSC
The DSCC raised $16 million in September, while the NRSC was on their heels with $15.5. Both organizations had the highest September hauls in the organizations' histories.
The DSCC had its strongest second quarter in organization history, raising $21.7 million during the quarter. As of July 2014, the DSCC had raised $70.3 million in the 2014 cycle, while the NRSC had raised $68.6 million in 2014.
The DSCC outraised the NRSC, $6.3 million to $6.04 million. In April, the DSCC ended the month with $25 million on hand, while the NRSC had $21.9 million in the bank. Both organizations remained debt-free.
The DSCC outraised their GOP counterpart, the NRSC, by one million dollars in October 2013. The DSCC raised $4.8 million compared to the NRSC's $3.8 million. This was the organization's best off-year October in their history.
At that time, the DSCC had raised $14 million more than the NRSC, a total of $43.5 million raised. They reported $11.1 million cash on hand. However, the organization was also carrying $6.2 million in debt. The NRSC had $5 million cash on hand at the end of October 2013.
July 2013 memo
In July 2013, NRSC president, Rob Collins, circulated a memo to top donors outlining the path to a majority in the Senate for the Republican Party. From the memo:
- "Montana now joins West Virginia and South Dakota as the third red-state where Democrats have not only failed to land their top candidates, but to recruit a candidate capable of winning a general election matchup."
Collins reiterated that Republicans needed to win just three seats in states with incumbent Democratic senators.
Outside race ratings
|U.S. Senate predictions|
|Prediction from:||Month||Solid D||Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R||Solid R|
|Rothenberg Political Report||March 14, 2014||9||5||2||1||2||2||13|
|Sabato's Crystal Ball||January 6, 2014||7||4||4||2||4||1||11|
|Rothenberg Political Report||December 18, 2013||11||1||2||1||2||1||12|
|Rothenberg Political Report||October 16, 2013||12||2||2||2||1||4||12|
|Rothenberg Political Report||June 28, 2013||12||1||1||5||2||2||12|
|Sabato's Crystal Ball||June 27, 2013||7||3||3||5||2||3||11|
Cook Political Report
|Cook Political Report Race Rating -- U.S. Senate|
|Month||Solid D||Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R||Solid R||Total D||Total R||Total races|
|June 27, 2013||6||5||6||3||0||4||11||17||15||35|
|August 2, 2013||7||4||6||2||3||2||11||17||16||35|
|October 17, 2013||7||4||6||2||3||2||11||17||16||35|
|December 19, 2013||7||5||4||3||3||1||12||16||16||35|
|February 7, 2014||6||6||4||3||3||1||13||16||17||36|
|February 27, 2014||6||5||5||3||3||1||13||16||17||36|
|March 19, 2014||8||2||3||7||2||2||12||13||16||36|
|April 25, 2014||8||2||2||8||2||2||12||12||16||36|
|August 15, 2014||7||3||1||9||2||3||11||11||16||36|
|September 19, 2014||7||3||1||9||1||3||12||11||16||36|
|October 17, 2014||7||3||1||10||1||2||12||11||15||36|
According to an analysis by Nate Silver, previously of The New York Times and now at his own blog FiveThirtyEight, Democrats are looking at a tough road ahead of them in the U.S. Senate in 2014. Democrats hold 21 of the 35 seats up for election in 2014, and there are more Democratic controlled seats that lean Republican than Republican seats that lean Democratic.
Additionally, Democrats could suffer from a lower voter turnout of their base due to the fact that 2014 is a midterm election and President Obama will not be on the ballot.
However, Republicans need to take six seats in order to gain control of the Senate, a large gain that will be difficult to accomplish even in a favorable environment. Silver's March 2014 ratings predicted that Republicans will indeed pick-up those six seats.
Most notably, in his March 2014 analysis, Silver broke up the possible key Republican pick-ups into two categories:
- Democrat-held seats likely to be picked up by Republicans (4): West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas
- Democrat-held seats that are toss-ups (4): Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska and Michigan
The table below lists Silver's race ratings overview for the 36 senate seats up for election in 2014 as of March 2015.
|FiveThirtyEight -- U.S. Senate|
|Month||Solid D||Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R||Solid R|
|February 20, 2013||6||7||3||4||0||4||11|
|July 15, 2013||8||4||3||3||0||4||13|
|March 23, 2014||10||2||3||1||1||4||16|
Most vulnerable seats
The FiscalTimes compiled a list of the seven most vulnerable Senate seats up for election in 2014. The seven included in the list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Going into the 2014 election, all seven seats are held by Democrats.
For the 2014 election cycle, The Washington Post released periodic lists of the 10 Senate seats (or 11, with this recent edition) most in danger of changing control in 2014. Their August 2014 rankings are below, along with their April ranking of the race in parentheses:
- 11. Georgia: "Businessman David Perdue's (R) primary runoff win over Rep. Jack Kingston means he faces off against Democrat Michelle Nunn. Most recent polling shows Perdue with a slight edge, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee just launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign here. Clearly, they see Nunn as a real threat, despite Georgia's continued GOP lean (it's turning purple more slowly than most people think). (Previous ranking: 10) (Previous ranking: 10)"
- 10. Colorado: "Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), after some uncertainty, announced last month that he would oppose ballot measures, pushed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), that were aimed at cracking down on fracking. Eventually, the measures were scrapped anyways, but the decision was somewhat surprising from a senator who has often aligned with environmentalists. Democrats fretted rather openly about the measures hurting Udall on the ballot in November. Rep. Cory Gardner (R), though, remains an underdog. (Previous ranking: 9)"
- 9. Kentucky: "The Democrats' best shot at a pickup might be in the Bluegrass State, where polling continues to show one of the tightest races in the country. Despite this, though, election models of 2014 have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as a strong favorite over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes – in large part because the state is so red. FiveThirtyEight says McConnell has an 80 percent shot to win, and the Post pegs his chances even better than that. We'll see if those models are accurate. (Previous ranking: 7)"
- 8. Alaska: "The big news Friday was that Joe Miller, the 2010 GOP nominee with strong tea party ties, said that he would support the GOP nominee and not run a third-party campaign if he lost the primary Aug. 19. Anything other than a win by former state attorney general Dan Sullivan in that primary would be a pretty big surprise, and Miller's assurance has got to make Republicans breathe a little easier. But Sen. Mark Begich (D) is doing a lot of things right (Previous ranking: 8)"
- 7. Iowa: "A recent Roll Call story by Alexis Levinson captured the state of this open seat race nicely: State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) moved through the Iowa State Fair doing a lot of hugging — both people she knew and people she didn't. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, meanwhile, delivered a dry policy address from the fair's legendary soapbox. Ernst is clearly the candidate with the momentum in this race but, as Levinson noted, Braley might be more closely aligned to the preferred policies of the electorate. (Previous ranking: N/A)"
- 6. North Carolina: "Senate Democrats' campaign arm just dropped a stunning $9.1 million into a new advertising campaign here, reinforcing that this is the race to watch this fall. It's the least conservative of the four Romney states where Democrats are running for reelection. If Sen. Kay Hagan (D) can hold on to her seat, Democrats give themselves some critical breathing room in the battle for the majority. If state House Speaker Thom Tillis wins (R), the GOP path to the majority becomes much wider. (Previous ranking: 5)"
- 5. Arkansas: "Rep. Tom Cotton (R) has led the last six public polls of this race — all by between two and four points. Shortly before that, an NBC News/Marist poll incredibly showed Sen. Mark Pryor (D) ahead by 11. We tend to think this is a pretty pure toss-up right now. (Previous ranking: 6)"
- 4. Louisiana: "It seems likely no one will clear 50 percent threshold in the all-party primary and that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) will face a runoff against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Dec. 6. Just imagine the November frenzy in the Bayou State if the Senate majority ends up riding on the outcome. (Previous ranking: 4)"
- 3. West Virginia: "It seems more and more like Montana and South Dakota are lost causes for Democrats. But West Virginia's not there yet. The Democratic super PAC Senate Majority PAC recently bought broadcast advertising time there, and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) has run a surprisingly strong campaign. That doesn't mean she's going to upset Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R). It just means West Virginia's not a done deal. (Previous ranking: 2)"
- 2. Montana: "The decision by Walsh not to seek a full term this fall in the wake of revelations about plagiarism takes an already-difficult race and makes it virtually impossible for Democrats. Democrats will decide on their nominee at a special state convention this weekend. Freshman state Rep. Amanda Curtis seems like the likeliest pick and cuts a very interesting profile. But this race is probably a lost one for Democrats, and Rep. Steve Daines (R) is the heavy favorite to be the next senator. (Previous ranking: 3)"
- 1. South Dakota: "The good news for Democrat Rick Weiland: Former GOP senator Larry Pressler is pulling nearly one-fifth of the vote as an independent. The bad news: Pressler has raised just $50,000 for the campaign, self-funding another $50,000. As we’ve written before, third-party candidates with little chance of winning tend to see their vote totals fall off at the end. Former governor Mike Rounds (R) is still the big favorite unless something changes in a major way. (Previous ranking: 1)"
Issues in 2014
- See also United States budget debate, 2013
Beginning in August 2013, House and Senate members began discussing the possibility of a government shutdown over the funding of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). On September 20, Republicans passed a spending bill in the House that funds the government until December, but strips funding from Obamacare. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate would hold a procedural vote on Wednesday, September 24, many senators began to announce their positions on voting against a cloture, the motion to end debate on a bill. After Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a marathon speech, the motion for cloture was accepted and Reid was able to strip the Obamacare defunding language contained in the Republican House members' continuing resolution (CR).
Following the successful cloture vote and the Senate subsequently sending a clean continuing resolution back to the House, the two chambers began a high-stakes game of hot potato. By September 30, the House had voted and sent three resolutions to the Senate that all were struck down. The Senate then sent back a clean resolution stripped of any healthcare defunding language. With Obamacare being the issue-at-hand, Congress was unable to agree on whether a resolution would fund the landmark healthcare law.
In the midst of the government shutdown in October 2013, talks began regarding the impending debt ceiling.
Polling during the shutdown
|Congressional approval rating|
|Poll||Total approve||Total disapprove||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
|The Economist/YouGov (September 21-23, 2013)||9%||72%||+/-5.1||690|
|CBS/New York Times (September 19-23, 2013)||14%||80%||+/-3||1,014|
|CNN/ORC (September 27-29, 2013)||10%||87%||+/-3.5||803|
|Gallup (October 3-6, 2013)||11%||85%||+/-4||1,028|
|AP-GfK (October 3-7, 2013)||5%||83%||+/-3.4||1,227|
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to|
Approval of own congressmen
During the shutdown, American's disapproval rating of their own congressmen reached new a new high, with almost as many people stating disapproval of their member (43%) to approval (44%). The Gallup poll concluded:
- "While members of Congress may continue to argue that problems with the image of the body as a whole is not their fault, and that they are doing nothing more than faithfully representing their particular constituents, it is clear that even their own constituents are less positive about the job they are doing than they were in the past."
- See also: United States involvement in Syria
In August 2012, President Obama said the "red line" for U.S. involvement in Syria was the use of chemical or biological weapons. In April 2013, reports surfaced that Syria had used chemical weapons twice in their civil war, but it was not enough for the U.S. to intervene. In June 2013, President Obama authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels following more reports of small scale chemical weapon attacks.
On August 21, 2013, the Syrian government was accused of a chemical weapons attack on a town in the suburbs of Damascus, killing thousands, including women and children. On September 3, 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and General Martin Dempsey met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support President Obama's decision to use military force to intervene in the Syrian conflict. The group met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on September 5.
- See also: Gang of Eight
On May 6, 2013, Senators John McCain (R), Chuck Schumer (D), Richard Durbin (D), Robert Menendez (D), Michael Bennet (D), Lindsey Graham (R), Marco Rubio (R) and Jeff Flake (R) unveiled the outlines of their bi-partisan immigration plan. The statement of principles was rather broad, but sets forth “four basic pillars”:
- 1. A “tough but fair path to citizenship . . . .contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country as required”;
- 2. Reform our legal immigration system with a greater eye toward our economic needs;
- 3. Workplace verification; and
- 4. Setting up a system for admitting future workers (although the term “guest worker” is not used).
On June 27, 2013, in a late afternoon vote, the Senate voted to approve the immigration reform bill, Senate Bill 744. The bill passed by a vote of 68-to-32, with 14 Republicans voting in favor.
Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans in a closed-door meeting on July 10, 2013 that the internal debate over immigration reform is an “important conversation," and that while the House will not take up the Senate-passed bill, members must do something to address the issue.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) on July 8, 2013 ridiculed the House’s strategy of using the “Hastert rule” to pass legislation and said Speaker John Boehner will eventually have to take up the Senate’s immigration bill. Reid also said Boehner’s adherence to the “Hastert Rule” requiring a majority of Republican caucus votes to move legislation is emblematic of the lower chamber’s dysfunction.
- See also: United States Farm Bill 2013
The Senate passed a $1 trillion farm bill in June 2013 to fund both food stamps and farmer subsidies. States heavy in agriculture, including ones that will be competitive in 2014, may turn more favorably to Democratic candidates due to Republican opposition of the bill. The vote was 66-27, with 25 of the 27 nay votes being from Republicans. The two Democratic senators to vote against the bill were Jack Reed (RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Both Montana and South Dakota, with agriculture being a major industry, will reap the benefits of the bill and also have open seats due to the retirement of Max Baucus (D-MT) and Tim Johnson (D-SD).
The comprehensive bill failed in the House due largely in part to the votes of 8 Democratic House members who joined the Republican majority to vote down the measure. Reps. Collin Peterson, John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Cheri Bustos, Sean Maloney, Mike McIntyre, Bill Owens and Tim Walz were the eight Democratic members who voted to reject the bill. According to analysis by OpenSecrets.org, many of these Democratic members have received significant political contributions from agricultural organizations that benefit from crop insurance subsidies. Five of the eight are on the House Agriculture Committee--Peterson, Bustos, Maloney, McIntyre, and Walz-- from which agribusiness firms routinely target committee members with sizable contributions.
Upon arrival at the House, the bill was altered by focusing solely on the farm programs and did not include the food stamp program, which will be voted on later. The House and Senate will now need to draft a final bill through conference committee.
For senators up for re-election in 2016, this will be the first election since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This may be problematic for Democratic senators who voted in favor of the bill in states where it is no longer popular. Among these senators include:
Sen. Lee letter
In July 2013, Lee authored a letter, which as of August 2013 had been signed by 14 Republican senators, which promised a government shutdown unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded. The senators up for re-election in 2014 who signed the letter are:
Senate Conservative Fund targets
The Senate Conservative Fund targeted Sens. Isakson (R-GA), Graham (R-SC), Alexander (R-TN) and Burr (R-NC) in August 2013 with two weeks of radio ads designed to push Senate Republicans to support Utah's Mike Lee's effort to defund Obamacare.
House Republicans passed a bill, the Student Success Act, on July 19, 2013, to reduce the federal role in public education and outline their vision for a national educational policy to replace the No Child Left Behind law. The measure would give state and local governments greater powers to determine how best to improve schools and would sharply reduce federal involvement in education matters.
It marks a significant departure from No Child Left Behind, the 2002 law that set federal goals for academic achievement and penalties for schools that fell short of those goals, as well as prescriptions for steps states must take to improve failing schools.
No Democrats supported the bill, which passed by a 221 to 207 margin, with 12 Republicans voting with the Democrats against the measure. It marked the first time in a dozen years that either chamber of Congress approved a comprehensive bill to update federal education law.
The House bill is said to have no chance of moving through the Democratic-led Senate as it is written and President Obama has threatened to veto it. The Senate committee overseeing education has completed work on its own measure that would give states greater flexibility in writing their own plans to improve schools. But, unlike the Republican proposal that passed the House, that bill would allow the education secretary to retain approval power over those proposals. Full Senate consideration of the measure is unlikely to happen before the fall of 2014.
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