By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s polling lead over President Donald Trump grows, analysts say Democrats’ chances of taking control of the Senate are rising as well.
“We raise our estimate of the likelihood that Democrats will win control of the Senate from 25% to 35% based on the Cook Political Report downgrade of Republican seats in MT, GA, and AK,” said analysts at Height Capital Markets in a note on Friday.
The influential Cook Political Report has changed its rating for a Senate race in Montana, where Republican incumbent Steve Daines faces Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, to “Toss Up” from “Lean Republican.”
It also recently has switched one of Georgia’s Senate contests, where GOP incumbent David Perdue is running against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, to “Lean Republican” from “Likely Republican,” as well as adjusted its rating for an Alaska race, where GOP incumbent Dan Sullivan faces challenger Al Gross, to “Likely Republican” from “Solid Republican.” Gross is running as an independent “with the blessing of national Democrats,” according to Cook’s analysis .
“Moreover, recent polling data suggests vulnerability for Republicans in AZ, CO, and IA,” the Height analysts said. GOP Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona is being challenged by Democrat Mark Kelly, while Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is expected to face off against former Democratic Gov. Jon Hickenlooper, though Hickenlooper still must defeat rival Andrew Romanoff in a June 30 primary. In Iowa, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst is running against Democrat Theresa Greenfield.
The Republican-controlled Senate’s passage last Wednesday of a conservation bill was widely viewed as an effort to aid the November election prospects of Daines and Gardner, who championed the measure. The GOP holds 53 seats in the chamber, where ties are broken by the vice president.
Health care /zigman2/quotes/205918244/composite XLV -3.04% , energy /zigman2/quotes/206420077/composite XLE -1.35% and financial services /zigman2/quotes/209660484/composite XLF -2.95% are among the sector that could be affected by a Democratic-run Senate, according to Height’s analysts.
“Modest drug-pricing reform (Medicare Part D) and Affordable Care Act enhancement are more likely in a Democratic Senate, but with a narrow majority, major reforms like drug-price negotiation or a public option would be difficult given infighting and the filibuster,” they said. The most affected areas in the energy sector would be “renewable energy tax credits and oil industry tax cuts,” and in financial services, the “risk comes from Biden nominees for regulatory bodies.”
The Height team’s views have some similarities with a take last month from analysts at Capital Alpha Partners, who said they see increasing chances for Democrats to take the White House and the Senate while maintaining control of the House of Representatives.
“Capital Alpha now flips to predict 55% odds of a Democratic White House and Senate,” the analysts wrote in a May note. They said that outcome could hurt “health care, energy, financial, defense, and other sectors we have long labeled as ‘red stocks,’ or better positioned under Republican control.”
“Newly at risk might be not only the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda but the 2017 tax cuts,” Capital Alpha’s team added. “Perhaps winning, however, could be ‘blue stocks’ in the infrastructure, clean energy, Medicaid HMO, and housing sectors.”
This report was first published on June 19, 2020.