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This diary is the third step in a little series of diaries that talk and find the path for a Democratic majority in the US Senate after 2018 elections. If you wish, you can know more about the previous steps, reading the previous diaries:

The Path I

The Path II

In this diaries we where talking first about how can look the prospect for the following election cycles, coming to the conclussion that the most likely scenario is:

-2014: Neutral year with a number of difficult seats to defend.
-2016: Good year with a number of favourable seats to pursue.
-2018: Bad year with a number of difficult seats to defend.

thanks to the strength that is showing H Clinton in the early states of the presidential election of 2016. And it means that the following cycles can have a good number of seats changing of hands. And in this volatile environment, it can be good to think about the easier ways to have a Democratic majority after 2018, when the political situation can become more stable, with lower number of seats changing of hands every cycle.

We are looking in this series at the overall picture but it means not that we are conceding the majority to the Republicans after the 2014 elections. The fight for 2014 still must be done.

These diaries are also giving to the readers the chance of helping to define wich can be the easiest seat in our opinion in order to find the path to have a Democratic majority after the 2018 elections.

In this way, today's diary is the most important of this little series. We have enough info from the previous polls to include today the easiest options in the poll of the diary. I encourage you to take part because the results improve with higher number number of votes. Today's poll likely will define the positions 39 to 50-52 that are the most important positions to define the path for a Democratic majority after the 2018 elections. Winning the presidential election of 2016 the 50 seat would give the majority to the Democratic party thanks to the role of the Vicepresident as tie breaker.

This is a short introduction about the races that are in today's poll:

WI-Sen 2018: T Baldwin is not specially weak, but her home state was the alone D+ state where a Democratic incumbent (R Feingold) has been deafeated in the last years (in a Republican wave). If the environment of 2018 becomes as hard as in 2010 this race can become a Toss-Up if the strongest Republicans run. At this point her strongest potential challenger can be the current governor S Walker.

FL-Sen 2018: W Nelson proved to be strong in Florida in 2012. The last year only J Bush polled enough well vs W Nelson to make the race a Toss-Up. If the Democratic senator retires not it seems difficult to see him endangered, even in a political environment worse than in 2012. The Republican bench in Florida is long but not too strong, because only a few of them have a statewide profile.

VA-Sen 2018: The Republican bench in Virginia is getting smashed in the last years, and in part thanks to T Kaine. Someone like J Kilgore can make the race competitive, but I'm not sure that he can make the race a Toss-Up.

OH-Sen 2018: S Brown can be challenged again. The Republican bench is stronger in Ohio than in Virginia, but maybe only the term limited governor J Kasich or a recovered M DeWine can make the race a Toss-Up.

WI-Sen 2016: R Johnson is also very endangered. In the last days we even read about him involved in some scandal. Between the potential challengers R Feingold is polling the strongest, and the race can become easily a rematch. Again, in this race the Democratic Party would be favored (a Lean D situation) but if weaker candidates run in the Democratic side the race can also enter in a Toss-Up situation.

IL-Sen 2016: M Kirk seems one of the most endangered Republican incumbents and will need to run in a unfavourable state in a likely unfavourable environment. Between the potential Democratic challengers according to some polls M Obama would have the best results. More likely candidates like L Madigan are also polling well. Still the race can down to a Toss-Up situation with lower level Democratic challengers.

PA-Sen 2016: The bench of potential challengers for the Republican incumbent P Toomey is very strong, including E Rendell, J Sestak and K Kane, and the Republican incumbent is polling weak. The race is a Toss-Up and it is a  serious chance for another gain in 2016 for the Democratic Party.

NV-Sen 2018: D Heller won in 2012 underperforming M Romney in a state that M Romney lost. He is fairly weak. The strongest potential challenger for him would be the former governor R (Bob) Miller. Running with the best the race would not be worse than a Toss-Up, and even more potential challengers can make it a Toss-Up.

WV-Sen 2018: Despite WV is becoming a difficult state, the Republican bench is so short. WV-Sen 2014 (Open by D) and WV-Gov 2016 (Open by D) are making this bench shorter. Still some serious candidate can be ready for this race. I think the Republicans will fight the race like they are fighting every race in R+ territory. But it seems the easier option of the group at this point.

AK-Sen 2014: M Begich, the young Democratic senator from AK, is becoming surprisingly resistant to the Republican challenge. At this point my rating gives Lean D to this race. But still there he will need to fight very much until november.

NH-Sen 2016: The prospect of a gain for the Democratic Party is serious here. M Hassan and J Lynch can make this race a Toss-Up. K Ayotte is seriously endangered.

NV-Sen 2016: This seat can be a lose if H Reid retires. At this point only three politicians can keep B Sandoval out of the senate seat. H Reid, Robert (Bob) Miller, the former Democratic governor, and B Sandoval himself, running for President or for Vice-President in 2016.

IA-Sen 2016: The race for this seat can be competitive for the first time in decades. T Vilsack, the former governor and current Secretary of Agriculture in Obama's cabinet and H Clinton are putting enough pressure over C Grassley to retire. But even if C Grassley retires not the race can be competitive with T Vilsack.

MT-Sen 2018: J Tester is not in his firts term but after two narrow dictories, this race can go by the same way also in 2018. The situation can be very close to the previous cases (MO, ND or IN). It would be a Toss-Up if the Republicans have a decent candidate. The Republican bench in Montana is the shortest of the states in this situation, but they also have the strongest potential challenger in all these states with M Racicot, who can be favored over J Tester.

KY-Sen 2014: The Republican leader in the Senate, M McConnell is showing weakness to win in his home state. He has a serious primary challenge (in 2010 the Republican stablishment lost the primary vs the Tea Party style candidate) and also has a serious challenger from the Democratic side. Again I would not tell A L Grimes is favored, the race is rated as LeR in my rating chart, but this race can be a big headache for the Republican stablishment all the year.

PROVISSIONAL RANK OF RACES IN THE PATH TO A DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY AFTER THE 2018 ELECTIONS

After the results of the polls of the previous diaries this is the provisional Rank:

38.- 38 seats with D incumbent in the area of relative comfort

39.-

40.-

41.-

42.-

43.-

44.-

45.-

46.-

47.-

48.-

49.-

50.-

51.-

52.-

53.-

54.-

55.-

56.-

57.-

58.-

59.-

60.-

61.-

62.-

63.-

64.-

65.- OH-Sen 2016: The last case of this list of potential options for the Democratic Party in R+ states (PVI), would be the seat that today hold R Portman. Some of his recent positions can make him vulnerable in the Republican primary, but still, with T Strickland ruling out the race, the Democratic bench can be a little weaker than in other commented states. In the other side the nature of the state is more favourable.

66.- IN-Sen 2018: Again the same history for J Donnelly but in a little more favourable state. Indiana is the kind of state where an incumbent not unpopular cand defend himself. The most likely situation would be a Toss-Up race. Also the Republican bench is so strong in Indiana with M Daniels as the most difficult potential challenger for J Donnelly.

67.- IN-Sen 2016: This is another seat that can be endangered for the Republicans if a strong Democratic challenger emerges. D Coats seems not too strong, but habitually a Republican is favored in Indiana. Until now, the strongest Democratic challenger in Indiana seems the former senator E Bayh, despite to be unpopular in other places.

68.- MT-Sen 2014: The last Democratic incumbent, and surely the most endangered, J Walsh, has a serious challenger this year, and until now he seems not favored in the race. Again this race is rated as Lean R in my rating chart but with worse numbers than GA-Sen 2014 and KY-Sen 2014. J Walsh is also the alone Democratic incumbent that is not leading the fundraising side of the race.

69.- AR-Sen 2016: At this point surely only M Beebe can endanger the re-election of the Republican senator J Boozman. We know not exactly if M Beebe is popular enough to defeat him, but I would not rule out it. Also H Clinton running for President can help to the Democratic prospect in this race.

70.- AK-Sen 2016: The last election for this seat makes see all the weakness of L Murkowski in a Republican primary in her home state. It is possible to see another similar situation in 2016. The race at this point is so unpredictable and L Murkowski can even switch party. In the last years, M Begich proved that a success of the Democratic party is possible. After him, Clark Gruening is the former candidate to high level elections with better performance in his last race.

71.- TN-Sen 2018: The weakness of B Corker and the strength of the Democratic former governor P Bredesen can give to the Democratic Party some chance for this seat in 2018. The environment will be worse than in 2012, but still maybe possible to bid. If P Bredesen rule out a bid, the chance of the Democratic party decreases strongly.

72.- 29 seats with R incumbent in the area of very low hope (including ME-Sen 2014).

A last diary is expected to finish the series and to complete the rank. The fourth and last diary can be published in three or four days. If you get interested you will find it in the right side of frontpage of DailyKos Elections. In fact, if you are intereseted about election talking, info and analisys, you always will find interesting things there.
Poll

Vote for the easiest option for a victory of the Democratic Party.

10%6 votes
8%5 votes
6%4 votes
8%5 votes
21%13 votes
21%13 votes
3%2 votes
0%0 votes
6%4 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
5%3 votes
1%1 votes

| 60 votes | Vote | Results

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