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February 9, 2016

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

This cycle, the South is dominated by competitive Senate races. That doesn’t mean there won’t be critical House races (including Florida’s 18th and 26th districts) or other interesting contests (such as the crowded Republican primary in Georgia).

Here are the top five races to watch in the South next year:

Arkansas Senate. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, is one of the most vulnerable senators in the country, and he represents a state where President Barack Obama has never been popular. Republicans are likely to nominate Rep. Tom Cotton, who appears to be a rare breed in that he appeals to both the tea party and the establishment. If Republicans can’t defeat Pryor, they ain’t getting back to the majority anytime soon. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up.

Louisiana Senate. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu isn’t anything if not consistent. The Democratic senator was elected to three terms with 52 percent each time. Republicans hope Obama’s midterm is the missing ingredient. GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy is running, but others could join him in the race in this late-breaking state. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up.

Florida’s 2nd District. Democrats are excited about their chosen candidate Gwen Graham, daughter of former governor and former Sen. Bob Graham. But she may have a primary with 2012 nominee Al Lawson. And GOP Rep. Steve Southerland II won’t be easy to defeat in the general election in this polarizing district. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Lean Republican.

North Carolina’s 7th District. Republicans came close to knocking off Rep. Mike McIntyre last year and hope to finish the job in 2014. Republican David Rouzer is running again, but McIntyre will have two years to solidify the newer portions of his redrawn district. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up. Get the full Rothenberg Political Report analysis here ($).

Kentucky Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t on the verge of defeat, but his race against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will certainly be one to watch. From the symbolism to the tens of millions of dollars that will be spent in a state without a major media market, this war could go on for most of next year. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating is Republican Favored.

What races would you add to or subtract from the list?

Note: The South Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia

  • JavierDCH12

    I think we could add Georgia 12th District, south of Augusta but with many rural republicans counties. Even though Barrow won it, republican challenger (a new one or the same) could try again.

  • ID-2

    I think GA-12 could be very interesting if the GOP finds the right candidate. Also, TX-23 could prove to be a surprise flip (for the third time in three cycles) if a confluence of factors that benefit the GOP come together.

  • prsteve11

    I think that a lot of the close House races in the South in 2012 are worth a very close look for being more Republican in 2014 thanks to the lighter, more Republican turnout dynamics (fewer black voters, etc). Others have mentioned GA-12 and I would add FL-18 and FL-26.

  • Aaron Marks

    I would also add FL-10. Democratic challenger Val Demings held Rep. Dan Webster to a close race in 2012, and this district in the suburbs of Orlando has been slowly trending Democratic over the years with the increasing Latino population.

  • 1kygent2

    Kentucky 3rd district Rep. Yarmuth of Louisville is on the verge of a very major scandal…..The 3rd district is significantly more conservative than he is…..He was never really vetted by the media…..and McConnell is about to nail him.

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