2020 Senate Races


REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) speaks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RC1866C8A6A0

There were 34 seats up for grabs in this year’s senate elections on November 3. One of those seats was in our own state of Colorado. The general elections are now over, but there are still two run-off elections in Georgia that will ultimately determine the balance of power in the Senate.


Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper easily defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner on November 3rd. Hickenlooper entered the Senate race shortly after ending his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in August of 2019. After entering the Senate race, Hickenlooper led in polling and maintained his lead through the election. Gardner, a one term senator, was running in a state that looks significantly politically different in 2020 from when he won the election in 2014. Colorado has leaned more Democratic in recent years, and Garnder was impacted by President Trump’s unpopularity amongst the majority of Coloradans. Gardner’s alignment with President Trump along with Hickenlooper’s positive image after his time as Governor proved too much for Gardener to overcome. Colorado will now have two Democrats in the Senate with Hickenlooper joining Senator Michael Bennet, who, at one time, served as the former Governor’s Chief of Staff.


In the 2020 senate elections Republicans kept 19 seats, unable to secure seats in Colorado and Arizona. Democrats held onto 11 seats, losing only Senator Doug Jones’ seat in Alabama. In addition to the flipping of Senator Gardner’s seat, they were also able to flip Senator John McCain’s (R) old seat in Arizona in a special election. Senator-elect Mark Kelly (D) will fill that seat for the remainder of Senator McCain’s term. Given the results of these senate elections, the Democrats now have control over 48 seats while the Republicans control 50.


The biggest uncertainty arising from this year’s Senate races comes from the Georgia Senate elections. This year, two seats in Georgia are left up grabs. Georgia has different election rules, where one candidate must win at least 50% of the vote in the general election; if they fail to do so, it goes to a run-off election between the two candidates with the most votes in the general election, with the hope that fewer choices on the ballot will lead to a more clear-cut victory for one side or the other. The first run-off this year will be between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democractic challenger Jon Ossoff. The second run-off election will be from the special election in which Republican appointee Kelly Loefler will seek to defend her seat against Democractic challenger Reverend Raphael Warnock. If Democrats win both of these seats, the senate will be split 50-50 between parties. Vice President-elect Harris’ deciding vote will likely be a crucial tool to determine the outcome of any ties that occur. 


For more information, check out these sources: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/11/03/us/elections/results-senate.html


https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/election-results/senate-2020/ https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/03/colorado-senate-election-results-2020-433575