Who is leading key Senate races less than a week from election? Here’s what polls show

Bailey Aldridge
·6 min read

As Election Day nears, a number of races for the U.S. Senate are highly contested, and some of them could determine which party controls the chamber in 2021.

Poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight has Democrats favored to take back the U.S. Senate this year. Republicans have a majority now, and Democrats need to flip three or four seats — depending on who wins the presidency — to gain control. Meanwhile, some races for other seats that could flip show candidates neck and neck.

With Nov. 3 five days out, here’s where polls stand in the states with key competitive Senate races.


The most recent poll added to poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight shows Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville leading incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones by 14 percentage points.

The Cyngal poll of 645 likely voters, released Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.86 percentage points.

While most polls show Tuberville up by solid margins, an FM3 Research added to FiveThirtyEight on Oct. 16 shows Jones up by 1 point. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

FiveThirtyEight predicts Tuberville has an 80% chance of winning the seat, meaning he is favored to win.

Jones has been in the Senate since 2018, when he won the special election to fill the seat Jeff Sessions vacated when he became U.S. Attorney General. Prior to that, Republicans held the seat since 1997, according to Ballotpedia. Alabama is typically a Republican stronghold, and President Donald Trump carried the state with 62.1% of the vote in 2016.


The RealClearPolitics average shows incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally trailing Democratic challenger Mark Kelly by 2.7 percentage points in the state’s special election.

Kelly is favored to win, with an 81% chance, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections.

McSally has served in the Senate since 2019, when she was appointed by the governor to fill John McCain’s vacant seat. The most recent Democratic Senate in the state was Dennis DeConcini who served until 1995, according to Ballotpedia.

The state is considered a key battleground for the presidency. Trump carried the state with 48.7% of the vote in 2016, but FiveThirtyEight gives Democratic nominee Joe Biden a 67% chance of winning the state.


A Morning Consulate poll from Oct. 22 shows Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper leading Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner by 8 percentage points at a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

It’s in line with other recent polls that show Hickenlooper up by solid margins, per FiveThirtyEight’s polling list.

The political analysis site gives Hickenlooper an 85% chance of winning the seat.

Gardner has represented Colorado in the Senate since 2015. Prior to that, Democrat Mark Udall served from 2009.


Georgia has two U.S. Senate races in 2020: one between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff and a special election to replace retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The RealClearPolitics average shows Purdue up by 0.2 percentage points.

He has a 57% chance of winning the seat and is “slightly favored,” according to FiveThirtyEight.

Purdue has served one term in the Senate.

In the special race, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican appointed to replace Isakson this year, faces Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Doug Collins are the front runners to replace her, polls listed on FiveThirtyEight show. FiveThirtyEight says the race is a tossup, with a 55% chance Republicans take the seat and a 45% Democrats take it.

Prior to retiring, Isakson had served in the Senate since 2005.


RealClearPolitics’ average shows Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield leading Republican Sen. Joni Ernst by 1.5 percentage points.

The race is a tossup, according to FiveThirtyEight, which gives Greenfield a 55% chance of winning and Ernst a 45% chance of keeping her seat.

Ernst won her 2014 Senate race with 52.1% of the votes, according to Ballotpedia. Prior to that, Democrat Tom Harkin had held the seat since 1985.


A SurveyUSA Poll added to FiveThirtyEight on Thursday shows Democratic challenger Sara Gideon leading Republican Sen. Susan Collins by 1 point with a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Other recent polls show Gideon’s lead narrowing as the election nears.

FiveThirtyEight says the Democrat is slightly favored to win, with a 60% chance.

Collins has served in the Senate 1997, and a Democratic Senator hasn’t represented Maine since 1995, Ballotpedia shows.


Democratic Sen. Gary Peters is leading Republican challenger John James by an average of 7.6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.

FiveThirtyEight gives Peters an 82% chance of keeping his seat, meaning he is favored to win.

Peters has been in the Senate since 2015 after winning 54.6% of the vote in 2014, according to Ballotpedia. The other Senate seat in the state has been held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow since 2001

Michigan is also considered a key battleground state for the presidency. Trump narrowly carried the state in 2016 with 47.5% of the vote, but FiveThirtyEight has Biden “clearly favored” to win in 2020.


Republican Sen. Steve Daines is leading Democratic challenger Steve Bullock by 3.3 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

FiveThirtyEight gives Daines a 65% chance of winning, meaning he is “slightly favored” to keep control of his seat.

Daines has been in the Senate since 2015 and was the first Republican senator in the state since Conrad Burns lost his long-held seat in 2006, per Ballotpedia.

North Carolina

RealClearPolitics’ average shows Democratic Challenger Cal Cunningham leading Republican Sen. Thom Tillis by 2.1 percentage points.

Cunnningham is “slightly favored” to win, with a 63% chance, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Tillis has represented North Carolina in the Senate since 2015 after narrowly winning the 2014 race with 48.8% of the vote, according to Ballotpedia. Democrat Kay Hagan held the seat from 2009 until 2015.

North Carolina is another battleground state this election.

It went for Trump by 3.6 percentage points in 2016. The state picked Obama in 2008 but his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012. The 2008 election was the first time North Carolina went for a Democrat since picking Jimmy Carter in 1976, according to The Charlotte Observer. FiveThirtyEight gives Biden a 66% chance of winning the state.

South Carolina

An East Carolina University poll added to FiveThirtyEight yesterday shows Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham leading Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison by 2 points at a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Other recent polls, however, have Harrison up by 2 points, FiveThirtyEight shows.

RealClearPolitics considers the race a tossup, and FiveThirtyEight shows Graham favored to win, with a 77% chance.

Graham has been in the Senate since 2003. If Harrison wins, it would be the first time since 2004 that a Democrat held a Senate seat in the state, Ballotpedia says.