Democrats lead in three key Senate races, CNBC/Change Research poll finds

FAN Editor

Retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?” on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.

Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call

Democrats lead in three pivotal U.S. Senate races as President Donald Trump falls into a deeper hole in his reelection bid, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. 

The survey took the pulse of competitive Senate elections in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina — three of the six 2020 election swing states featured in the poll released Wednesday. The other states — Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — do not have Senate contests this year. 

In Arizona, Democratic former astronaut Mark Kelly leads Republican Sen. Martha McSally by a 53% to 44% margin, according to the CNBC/Change Research poll. The senator, appointed to fill the late John McCain’s seat after she lost a 2018 election in the state to Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has consistently trailed Kelly in polls. 

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan — one of the few Democratic senators facing a strong Republican challenge this year — holds a 49% to 42% edge over GOP Army veteran John James, the survey found. While Trump narrowly won the state on his way to the White House in 2016, recent polls have showed a challenging environment in Michigan for both the president and James.

In North Carolina, Democratic former state Sen. Cal Cunningham holds a 51% to 41% advantage over Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, according to the CNBC/Change Research poll. A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows a much closer race for the Senate seat. 

The Senate survey results largely mirror the presidential race in an election year that increasingly looks like a referendum on Trump and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads the president by 7, 5 and 7 percentage points in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina, respectively, the poll found. 

Democrats aim to flip control of the Senate and White House while keeping their House majority in November’s elections. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning Democrats would have to net four GOP-held seats to gain control. 

If Biden wins the White House, his ability to push any of his priorities through Congress will depend on whether his party takes control of the Senate. 

Democrats will get many opportunities to win a majority: Republicans have to defend 23 seats, while Democrats control only 12 up for grabs this year. Among Democrats, only Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama faces a more difficult path to reelection than Peters. 

On the Republican side, Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Susan Collins of Maine and Steve Daines of Montana will have to hold off potentially competitive challenges. 

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