The 12 Key Senate Races To Watch In 2012


This year, most people have been focused on the Romney vs. Obama race, but there is also a battle going on for control of the Senate. The Senate is currently comprised of 47 Republicans, 51 Democrats and 2 liberal independents. That means the GOP would need to capture 4 seats for a takeover. Although that may sound like a heavy lift, keep in mind that this year there are only 10 Republicans up for reelection while 23 Democrats/liberal independents have to defend their seats. When you have that kind of spread, big gains are very possible. Will they materialize this time? Looking at the breakdown, a GOP takeover of the Senate isn’t out of the question, but seems unlikely at this point.
12) State:: Maine

Seat Currently Held By:: Olympia Snowe (R)

Competitors:: Charles Summers (R) vs. Angus King (I) vs. Cynthia Dill (D)

Current Ranking:: Leans Independent pick-up (75% chance of independent pick-up)

Analysis:: Angus King is a popular, former Governor who could conceivably caucus with either party despite the fact that he’s probably a little bit to the right of Olympia Snowe. That being said, if you had to bet, King would be more likely to support Harry Reid for majority leader than Mitch McConnell. King has been ahead all along and Dill has no chance. Can Summers catch King? Maybe, but it’ll be a tough slog.
11) State:: Massachusetts

Seat Currently Held By:
: Scott Brown (R)

Competitors:
: Scott Brown (R) vs. Elizabeth Warren (D)

Current Ranking:
: Toss-up (50% chance of Republican hold)

Analysis:
: Normally, a popular incumbent like Scott Brown would have nothing to fear from a far left-wing socialist who advanced her career by pretending to be an Indian. Unfortunately, we’re talking about a state that sent degenerates like Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank back to Congress year after year. This is a tight, back-and-forth race that still might break either way.

10) State:: Nevada

Seat Currently Held By:: Dean Heller (R) who took John Ensign’s place after he resigned

Competitors :: Dean Heller (R) vs. Shelley Berkley (D)

Current Ranking:: Edge to Republicans (60% chance of a Republican hold)

Analysis:: Heller has consistently been ahead in this race by a small margin, but there are two areas of concern here. The first is that Democrats have been greatly outpacing Republicans in voter registration efforts in the state. The second issue is Harry Reid DRAMATICALLY outperformed his poll numbers against Sharron Angle in 2010. Could Berkley do the same thing? Time will tell.

9) State:: Indiana

Seat Currently Held By:: Richard Lugar (R)

Competitors:: Richard Mourdock (R) vs. Joe Donnelly (D)

Current Ranking:: Leans Republican hold (75% chance of Republican hold)

Analysis:: Most people seem to be assuming that Mourdock is going to coast to victory, but at the moment, both candidates seem to be knotted in the low forties. Mourdock SHOULD win this race, but if he stumbles down the stretch or Republicans get complacent about this seat while Democrats go after it hard, this could turn into the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a GOP seat they’re expected to lose.

8) State:: Missouri

Seat Currently Held By:: Claire McCaskill (D)

Competitors:: Todd Akin (R) vs. Claire McCaskill (D)

Current Ranking:: Likely Democrat Hold (90% chance of Democrat hold)

Analysis:: This was a gimmie seat for the GOP before Todd Akin made his “legitimate rape” comments. Now, McCaskill is ahead by several points and has had a 6-to-1 fund raising advantage (McCaskill has raised $12,545,922 vs. Akin’s $2,229,189). If Akin drops out of the race before the September 25 deadline, the GOP MAY still have a shot at capturing the seat. Otherwise, Akin is unlikely to get much outside help and will be buried in an avalanche of McCaskill attack ads down the stretch.

7) State:: New Mexico

Seat Currently Held By:: Jeff Bingaman (D)

Competitors:: Heather Wilson (R) vs. Martin Heinrich (D)

Current Ranking:: Leans Democrat hold (75% chance of Democrat hold)

Analysis:: Wilson is a moderate candidate, running a solid race for what was expected to be a competitive seat. Unfortunately, it’s just not happening for her yet. Henrich is close to putting this race away early. If Wilson is going to have a chance to win, now is the time for her campaign to start moving the needle.

6) State:: Virginia

Seat Currently Held By:: Jim Webb (D)

Competitors:: George Allen (R) vs. Tim Kaine (D)

Current Ranking:: Edge to Democrats (60% chance of Democrat hold)

Analysis:: This is a race between two well funded, well liked candidates in a crucial battleground state. Although Allen has outspent Kaine by a significant margin, Kaine still appears to have a small, but significant lead. This is a winnable race, but Allen will have to run a strong down the stretch to beat Kaine.

5) State:: Connecticut

Seat Currently Held By:: Joe Lieberman (I)

Competitors:: Linda McMahon (R) vs. Chris Murphy (D)

Current Ranking:: Edge to Democrats (60% chance of Democrat hold)

Analysis:: McMahon and Murphy appear to be roughly tied right now and the WWE mogul will dramatically outspend the Democrat in the last few weeks of the campaign. On the other hand, Connecticut is a very blue state and that will give Murphy a large, natural advantage that may turn out to be too great for McMahon to overcome.

4) State:: Wisconsin

Seat Currently Held By:: Herb Kohl (D)

Competitors:: Tommy Thompson (R) vs. Tammy Baldwin (D)

Current Ranking:: Toss-up (50% chance of Democrat hold)

Analysis:: Tommy Thompson is a popular former governor who looked to have this race well in hand, but the numbers have started moving Baldwin’s way. Either candidate could still pull this out.

3) State:: Montana

Seat Currently Held By:: Jon Tester (D)

Competitors:: Denny Rehberg (R) vs. Jon Tester (D)

Current Ranking:: Edge to Republican (60% chance of Republican pick-up)

Analysis:: This has been a tight, competitive race. However, Rehberg has been consistently polling a little stronger than Tester which is a bad sign for the incumbent this late in the race in such a Republican state. If Rehberg finishes strong, he should be able to come out on top.

2) State:: North Dakota

Seat Currently Held By:: Sen. Kent Conrad (D)

Competitors:: Rick Berg (R) vs. Heidi Heitkamp (D)

Current Ranking:: Leans Republican Pick-Up (75% chance of Republican pick-up)

Analysis:: Heitkamp is running a solid campaign which is why Berg hasn’t quite been able to put this race away yet. Still, Berg is close to taking it home and this election could slip away from Heitkamp very soon.

1) State:: Nebraska

Seat Currently Held By:: Ben Nelson (D)

Competitors:: Deb Fischer (R) vs. Sen. Bob Kerrey

Current Ranking:: Likely GOP Pick-Up (90% chance of Republican pick-up)

Analysis:: Nelson may have been the only candidate who could hold a seat in a such a red state. The Democrats probably couldn’t run a much better candidate than Kerrey and he’s getting clobbered. You can chalk this race up for Fischer.

 

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