The U.S. Senate will control who the next president appoints to oversee administration of Affordable Care Act programs and Medicare programs — and anything could happen to control of the Senate in the upcoming general elections.
Helmut Norpoth, a political science professor at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, says Republican nominee Donald Trump has an 87 percent chance of winning the presidential election in November, because his victories in the presidential primaries were so strong. Most other forecasters, however, say Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will probably win. Charlie Cook, for example, says Clinton was doing so well in polls in mid-August that it looked as if she already had attracted enough electoral college votes to win.
Cook and most other well-known forecasters also agree on the most likely outcome of the U.S. House races: They think Republicans will keep control of the House.
The forecasters say they are not as comfortable predicting what will happen to the Senate. The Senate now has 54 Republican senators, 44 Democrats, and two independents who usually vote with the Democrats. Cook says that he thinks the Republicans could keep control of the Senate, but that they could end up with a 50-50 tie with the Democrats. Larry Sabato’s team at the University of Virginia has posted an analysis suggesting that the Republicans could end up controlling anywhere from 47 to 53 seats in the Senate.
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The analysts say the Senate races in Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania are especially close.
Many things could happen between now and Nov. 8. Eventful debates, successful campaign ads, hurricanes, or even the Zika outbreak could change how voters vote.
If a President Trump ends up getting support from a Republican majority in the House, a narrow Republican majority in the Senate could help him get nominations, or bills, that have some support from moderate Democrats through the Senate.
If Trump comes into office with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate in the hands of Democrats, then he may face the same kinds barriers to getting judges and cabinet secretaries confirmed, and getting even popular, bipartisan, essential bills through Congress, that President Obama now faces.
If a President Hillary Clinton enters office with Republicans in control of the House, then she may have a hard time getting legislation through Congress no matter which party is control in the Senate. But, if the Republicans are in charge of the Senate, she may have severe problems with getting nominees confirmed, and she may end up having to rely heavily on a combination of temporary, “acting” officials at the top and career civil service workers.
One possible sign of health insurance industry uncertainty about the Senate races: The political action committees that represent health insurers, insurance agents, insurance brokers and self-insured plans seem to playing only a modest role in supporting the nominees, or likely nominees, in the six hottest Senate races.
The analysis excluded PACs associated with companies that focus mainly on life insurance or property-casualty insurance. We looked at first-quarter filings only for candidates who do not yet have detailed second-quarter contribution data available online.
A review of Federal Election Commission candidate filings for the second quarter reveals that, in Florida, for example, in the second quarter, the only PACs with health insurance ties that contributed to the Senate re-election campaign of Marco Rubio were the Washington,D.C.-based Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers PAC and the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. PAC for Responsible Government.
For a look at what else we saw when we looked at FEC contribution filings for the six closest Senate races, read on:
At press time, Florida had not yet held its congressional primaries. Patrick Murphy, a House Democrat, was the frontrunner on the Democratic side. Marco Rubio, the Republican incumbent, was the leader on the Republican side. (Candidate photos)