Balance of Power in Congress Hinges on Key Illinois Races

Some key races in Illinois could have a substantial impact on the national political outlook Tuesday.

Some key races in Illinois could have a substantial impact on the national political outlook Tuesday.

The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Mark Kirk and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, has been billed as one of the country’s most crucial Senate match-ups.

With a strong lead in the polls and a substantial fundraising edge, Duckworth is expected to flip Kirk’s seat. According to FiveThirtyEight, Duckworth has a 97 percent chance of winning the race. Real Clear Politics shows Duckworth holding an average lead of 13.3 percent in a contest the Wall Street Journal has labeled “Likely Democrat."

A Duckworth victory would be key to Democrats taking control of the Senate. There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs Tuesday. 10 of those seats are Democratic, 24 are Republican. In order to take control of the Senate, Democrats need to flip at least five of those seats. 36 Democratic seats and 30 Republican seats are not up for grabs Tuesday.

FiveThirtyEight is forecasting an extremely tight battle, giving Republicans a 50.8 percent chance of retaining control of the Senate.

Other key Senate races are being held in neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Pennsylvania and Nevada. Incumbent Republican candidates are also facing tough competition in Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Florida, although they are expected to keep those seats.

Additionally, Illinois’ 10th congressional district race could carry serious implications for the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Incumbent Republican Bob Dold is facing tough competition from former Congressman Brad Schneider, who unseated Dold in 2012 after a single term. Dold ultimately retook the seat in a 2014 rematch.

Real Clear Politics and the Wall Street Journal both list the race as a tossup. However, political analyst Larry J. Sabato, of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, is forecasting the race as leaning Democratic.

Republicans currently hold a strong majority in the House with 247 seats to the Democrats’ 188, although all 435 seats are up for grabs Tuesday. In order for the Democrats to take control of the House, they will need to flip 30 seats.

Real Clear Politics projects Republicans taking 224 seats and Democrats taking 190 with 21 toss ups. The Wall Street Journal shows 204 races as safely Republican and 182 races as safely Democratic. The projection also shows 15 races that are likely Republican and 9 races that lean Republican. Additionally, the paper lists 9 races as leaning Democratic and 16 tossups.

Sabato predicts that Democrats will gain 13 House seats, falling 17 short of their magic number.

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