Women Can Take Back the Senate; Here's How to Help

The women of the U.S. Senate at President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union address. Flickr Creative Commons photo.

The women of the U.S. Senate at President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union address. Flickr Creative Commons photo.

TL;DR: Today I sent contributions to the five women candidates who could help put the Senate back under Democratic control. For those of you who may not have had time to get up to speed on the local Senate races or find the campaign sites, info & links are below.

In past election cycles, when I was working inside news organizations or universities, I usually kept my politics to myself. Now that I'm freelance, I feel a little more free to express myself.

Which is a good thing, since something so amazing is happening that I can't sit on my hands. Democrats have an excellent chance of winning back the Senate. And in the five closest, most important races, the candidates are female. Wouldn’t it be great if women took back the Senate and captured the White House in the same election?

It may turn out that this is the silver lining to the toxic, embarrassing, misogynistic Trump candidacy. As Trump slides in the polls, he’s dragging Republicans down with him. Try as they might, incumbent Republican senators like Patrick Toomey in Pennsylvania are having trouble disentangling themselves from their party’s nominee, at least in the minds of the likely voters who talk to pollsters.

I don’t mean to tempt fate, but if all five of the candidates listed below win election—and if Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold hold on to their big leads and are able to win back their seats in Indiana and Wisconsin, respectively—the Democrats will take back the Senate. With a Supreme Court seat still unfilled, and with so many Obama-era initiatives from Clean Power Plan to the Affordable Care Act still under assault from the right, the stakes in these races could not be higher. I sent money to these out-of-state candidates because there's no Senate contest in Massachusetts this cycle and I wanted to help make a difference.

Note: All of these candidates use a non-profit fundraising technology startup called ActBlue to streamline online donations. So if you give to multiple candidates, you only have to supply your address and credit card info once.

Illinois: Tammy Duckworth (D) is trying to flip the seat occupied by Mark Kirk (R). There haven’t been many polls in this race, but the last one showed Duckworth ahead by 7 points.


Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto (D) is running against Dr. Joe Heck (R) for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D). Recent polls show Heck with a small lead of 1 to 2 percent. The Democrats really need to keep this seat.


New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan (D) has an excellent shot at unseating incumbent Kelly Ayotte (R). There’s a lot of variability in the polls, but on average, they show Hassan slightly ahead.


North Carolina: Deborah Ross (D) has a chance to unseat the incumbent Richard Burr (R). Some polls show Ross with a 2 point lead; others show her 1-4 points behind.


Pennsylvania: Challenger Katie McGinty (D) is running a few points ahead of incumbent Patrick Toomey (R) in most polls, but her lead isn’t comfortable by any means.


Wade Roush

Science and technology journalist