9 Crucial Democratic Senate Races That Could Be Make-Or-Break For The Party

Believe it or not, the presidential election is not the only one coming up this Nov. 8. Sure, these others aren't getting the same play on Saturday Night Live, and the corresponding debates aren't "Songify this" harmonized, but the races for the U.S. Senate will have a significant effect on the next six years — yup, you heard that right, two more than the presidential race. And now that Hillary Clinton and her campaign are feeling more comfortable with their margins for winning the presidency, they have looked to helping down-ballot Dems. These are the nine Senate races to could prove critical for Democrats winning control.

That's big news. Democratic control of the Senate is a big deal — more or less the GOP's worst nightmare at this point, since Donald Trump losing is seeming more and more likely (and a win wouldn't be that great for many, either). And it's not just a big deal for politicians. For the country, it could affect everything from who's ultimately confirmed to the Supreme Court to every progressive legislative goal currently on the agenda — from student loan reform to passing paid family leave and raising taxes on the wealthy. A Clinton Administration would need partners in Congress, and these candidates will be key to having a Democratic Senate Majority Leader.

1) Tammy Duckworth In Illinois

Duckworth, currently a U.S. Representative, could take the seat from current Republican Mark Kirk. She's an Iraq War veteran, was the first person elected to Congress born in Thailand, and was the first disabled Representative ever elected.

2) Russ Feingold In Wisconsin

Former Sen. Russ Feingold is running against the main who beat him in the 2010 Republican wave, Ron Johnson.

3) Patrick Murphy In Florida

The incumbent in this race you're surely familiar with. That would be former GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio. You may not have heard of Patrick Murphy though. He's a current U.S. Rep from near Palm Beach who has been endorsed by the likes of The Miami Herald and The New York Times.

4) Evan Bayh In Indiana

This is another race in which a politician is fighting for a seat he once had. Former Sen. Evan Bayh decided not to run in 2010 and retired in 2011, but now he's fighting to represent Indiana once again. But he's not running against the Republican incumbent Dan Coats, because he's retiring this time around (having come out of retirement to run in 2010, so he's now re-retiring). The Republican in the race is Todd Young, a current congressman.

5) Jason Kander In Missouri

Missouri is one of the states that the Clinton camp has stepped up spending in. Currently, Jason Kander is Missouri's Secretary of State, a veteran, and has served as a state rep. Winning against incumbent Roy Bent seemed quite the tall order until Kander released a campaign ad showing his capability with firearms while calling for background checks.

6) Maggie Hassan In New Hampshire

Currently the Governor of the Granite State, Maggie Hassan might not be as well-known on the national stage. But that's only because her Republican opponent, incumbent Kelly Ayotte, has been making the news for supporting Trump. Then she dropped Trump — something which seemingly hasn't gone down well with New Hampshire voters.

7) Deborah Ross In North Carolina

Deborah Ross is a former member of the state's general assembly and a lawyer. She has been endorsed by The Charlotte Observer , but polls in the state show her opponent, incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, with a slight lead.

8) Katie McGinty In Pennsylvania

The Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania, Katie McGinty, is an environmental wiz. She was an advisor to former President Bill Clinton and VP Al Gore in the 1990s, and has served for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Scranton Times Tribune has endorsed her (as has The Times ), but it's still a close race. She's up against incumbent Republican Pat Toomey.

9) Catherine Cortez Masto In Nevada

Catherine Cortez Masto, a former Attorney General of Nevada, is running for the seat currently held by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid — this is the only seat on this list currently held by a Democrat. Currently, the polls show her ahead of the Republican competition, Rep. Joe Heck.

So come Nov. 9, don't just pay attention to the winner of the presidency. See if these candidates are joining her in Washington.