By Reid Wilson
February 3, 2016 at 10:50 am ET
Nine months before voters head to the polls, the path each party needs to take to win control of the Senate is clear: Well-funded Republican incumbents in key states must fare better than their party’s presidential nominee; Democrats must overcome primary hurdles before taking advantage of what should be fertile terrain.
But just how far ahead of their own nominee Republicans must run and just how high those Democratic primary hurdles are remain to be seen.
Democrats need to net five seats to achieve a clear 51-seat majority, while Republicans must defend a handful of incumbents first elected in the 2010 wave election. Here’s where the races stand in our second race rankings, sorted by the competitive states most likely to change party control: