Americans view the US Senate as competitive in 2020

Linley SandersData Journalist
June 27, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC

Not long ago it appeared that Republicans were almost certain to retain control of the Senate. That still may be the case, but registered voters are now evenly split on whether the Senate will flip to Democratic control (39%) or remain in Republican hands (39%) in the 2020 election.  

The latest data from The Economist/YouGov reflects a 13-point increase in since February among Independents that believe Democrats can win the Senate in November. In February, 43 percent of Independents said that Republicans would win the Senate, and just a quarter of Independents (25%) believed Democrats held the edge. In the latest poll, Independent voters give the edge to Democrats (38% vs 33%).  

Republican confidence in holding the Senate, which has remained under Republican control since 2015, has also dipped. A strong majority of Republicans (80%) still believe their party will win the Senate in 2020, but that number was seven points higher in February (87%).

Democrats’ confidence in taking the Senate has remained steady over the last few months. That being said, there are about four months remaining in the lead-up to the presidential election, and political confidences — which are different from the generic congressional ballot — can fluctuate. 

Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats. For the chamber to change its majority, Democrats would need to pick up several Senate seats that are being defended in traditionally Republican states. Only five Republican races are rated “toss-ups” by the Cook Political Report: Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Montana, and North Carolina. Democrats must also defend a Senate seat in Republican-leaning Alabama, which they picked up during the 2017 special election. 

Registered voters remain confident that Democrats will hold onto the House of Representatives, a metric that has remained stable since The Economist/YouGov began surveying this congressional cycle in February. In the latest poll, 46 percent of registered voters say the Democratic Party will control the House after the 2020 election, compared to 33 percent who give the edge to the Republican Party. One in five (21%) are not sure. 

This week, seven in 10 Republicans (70%) believe their party will gain control the House in 2020. That is down nine points (79%) from late February. One in nine Republicans (11%) believe the Democratic Party will continue to hold the House. Just 6 percent of Democrats believe that they will lose the House to Republicans in 2020.  

The Economist/YouGov’s tracker of generic congressional vote continues to give the edge to Democratic Party candidates. When registered voters are asked who they would vote for if an election were being held in the district where they live, 48 percent say a generic Democrat and 41 percent say a generic Republican. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll 

Related: Explore the Economist/YouGov tracker for congressional ballot voting intention 

Methodology: The latest Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between June 21 - 23, 2020.  This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.4% for the overall sample.   

Image: Getty