Along with the presidential elections on November 3, elections will also be held for 33 out of the 100 US Senate seats. Special elections will also take place to fill the vacancies in the seats of Arizona and Georgia. So overall, 35 senate seats are up for election.
Twelve of these seats are held by the Democrats and 23 by the Republicans. Currently, Republicans have a majority in the Senate with 53 seats. Democrats would need a net gain of four seats, or three in addition to winning the presidential election, to take control of the chamber. The vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate.
For the Democrats Colorado, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina, Georgia, Montana, and Iowa look very competitive. For Republicans two states hold the key: Alabama and Michigan.
Importance of a Senate majority
No US President can deliver on a bold agenda without a Senate majority. Therefore, it is very crucial for both the parties to ensure that along with the presidential win, they get a majority in the Senate as well. It is more important for Democrats to win the Senate as they have been promising change on key issues like health care, climate change and the pandemic. If the results of the election turn out to be like 2016, winning the Senate is even more pertinent for the Democrats.
Even now, the Democrats and Republicans are at a standstill with respect to the Covid-19 relief package and therefore, the first priority for the Democrats if they win the majority in the Senate would be the relief package. The anti-corruption reforms, the Affordable Care Act, the criminal justice bill to combat police brutality against Black Americans, immigration reforms, the Build Better plan proposed by Joe Biden; all depend on the Democrats securing a majority in the Senate.
The recent confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is an apt example of the power that lies with the Senate. Even though the Democrats oppose the nomination of Judge Barrett to the seat left vacant after the passing away of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, they are aware that their options are very limited as Republicans have a 53- 47 majority in the Senate.
Therefore, the importance of a Senate majority is something that the Democrats cannot ignore as it is the Senate majority that Republicans are effectively using to push their agenda.