40 Days Out: Analysis Of All The Key Senate Races

As you read these run-downs, keep in mind that we have yet to reach the most crucial part of the campaign season. Over the next 40 days, the voters will be paying attention, the candidates will be spending everything left in their coffers, and you will see surprisingly rapid changes in some of these races. For the moment, however, this should give you a pretty good idea of how things stand.

State: North Dakota
Seat Currently Held By: Byron Dorgan (D)
Competitors: John Hoeven (R) vs Tracey Potter (D)
Latest poll: John Hoeven 69% vs. Tracey Potter 25% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Game Over. Hoeven wins.
Analysis: See ranking.

State: Arkansas
Seat Currently Held By: Blanche Lincoln (D)
Competitors: Blanche Lincoln (D) vs. John Boozer (R)
Latest poll: John Boozer 53% vs. Blanche Lincoln 39% — Reuters/Ipsos
Ranking: Likely Republican Takeover (90% chance of Republican takeover)
Analysis: Barring a miracle, Lincoln is toast. Enough said.

State: Indiana
Seat Currently Held By: Evan Bayh (D)
Competitors: Dan Coats (R) vs Brad Ellsworth (D)
Latest poll: Dan Coats 50% vs Brad Ellsworth 34% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Likely Republican Takeover (90% chance of Republican takeover)
Analysis: Coats has had a double digit lead over Ellsworth from the get-go and there’s very little evidence Ellsworth is gaining traction.

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State: New Hampshire
Seat Currently Held By: Judd Gregg (R)
Competitors: Kelly Ayotte (R) vs Paul Hodes (D)
Latest poll: Kelly Ayotte 51% vs Paul Hodes 44% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Likely Republican Hold (90% chance of Rep hold)
Analysis: To the best of my knowledge, there has yet to be a poll showing Hodes ahead of Ayotte and she’s probably about 5-8 points ahead in the real world. That’s not an insurmountable lead, but coming into the home stretch in a strong Republican year like this one, Ayotte is in a very good position.

State: Missouri
Seat Currently Held By: Christopher Bond (R)
Competitors: Roy Blunt (R) vs Robin Carnahan (D)
Latest poll: Roy Blunt 53% vs. Robin Carnahan 43% (There was a Dem party poll out I skipped) — Rasmussen
Ranking: Likely Republican Hold (90% chance of Rep hold)
Analysis: This would be a dogfight most years, but there’s a very strong wind at Blunt’s back. Moreover, Blunt is running over 50% in most polls, hasn’t been behind all year, and Carnahan appears to have peaked and is starting to trend downwards.

State: Ohio
Seat Currently Held By: George Voinovich (R)
Competitors: Rob Portman (R) vs Lee Fisher (D)
Latest poll: Rob Portman 49% vs Lee Fisher 36% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Likely Republican Hold (90% chance of Rep hold)
Analysis: This looked like a very tight race a few months back, but Portman has blown Fisher’s doors off. Portman should make for a nice upgrade over that crybaby, George Voinovich.

State: Wisconsin
Seat Currently Held By: Russ Feingold (D)
Competitors: Ron Johnson (R) vs Sen. Russ Feingold (D)
Latest poll: Ron Johnson 51% vs. Russ Feingold 45% — CNN/Time
Ranking: Leaning Republican (75% chance of Republican pick-up)
Analysis: This is one of the most surprising races of the election cycle. When Tommy Thompson bowed out, most people thought Johnson would be a real longshot. But he’s run a surprisingly strong race, has the money to compete, and has pulled ahead of Feingold by a few points. Given that the people of Wisconsin know Feingold very well, he looks to be in real trouble. The race isn’t over yet, but it’s Johnson’s race to lose at this point.

State: Alaska
Seat Currently Held By: Lisa Murkowski (R)
Competitors: Joe Miller (R) vs. Lisa Murkowski (I) vs. Scott McAdams (D)
Latest poll: Joe Miller 42% vs. Lisa Murkowski 27% vs. Scott McAdams 25%
Ranking: Leaning Republican (75% chance of Republican hold)
Analysis: Lisa Murkowski is very well known to the people of Alaska; so the fact that she’s 15 points down right out of the gate, with a write-in campaign, means she’s probably not viable. She could conceivably peel off enough Republican votes to put McAdams over the finish line, but he’s definitely not a blue chip candidate and may have trouble taking advantage of the situation. Given how things are breaking down, Miller definitely has the edge, but there’s enough uncertainty that you can’t quite pencil him in as a sure winner yet.

State: Kentucky
Seat Currently Held By: Jim Bunning (R)
Competitors: Rand Paul (R) vs. Jack Conway
Latest poll: Rand Paul 49% vs. Jack Conway 42% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Likely Republican Hold (75% chance of Rep hold)
Analysis: There have been some outliers that have made it appear that Conway was in this race, but realistically, Paul is probably up by somewhere around 5-8 points, in a Republican state, and Paul has added on some professional staffers who’ve done a good job of knocking off his rough edges. At this point, barring some major foot-in-mouth disaster, Paul should be in pretty good shape.

State: Florida
Seat Currently Held By: George LeMieux (R)
Competitors: Marco Rubio (R) vs. Charlie Crist (I) vs. Kendrick Meek (D)
Latest poll: Marco Rubio 41% vs. Charlie Crist 30% vs. Kendrick Meek 23% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Leaning Republican (75% chance of Republican hold)
Analysis: For Charlie Crist to be viable, he needed Kendrick Meek’s campaign to collapse. That hasn’t happened. Moreover, Crist’s move to the Left has alienated some of his Republican support. At this point, Rubio and Meek seem to be rising while Crist is falling. Although Rubio is sitting pretty, it’s too early to confidently say this one is over in a 3 man race.

State: Pennsylvania
Seat Currently Held By: Arlen Specter (D)
Competitors: Pat Toomey vs. Joe Sestak
Latest poll: Pat Tooomey 49% vs. Joe Sestak 44% — CNN/Time
Ranking: Leaning Republican (75% chance of Republican pick-up)
Analysis: Toomey is running strong and has consistently led Sestak. Still, Sestak’s numbers have been trending up and the race isn’t over yet. Toomey’s in a good spot, but he could still be beaten.

State: Colorado
Seat Currently Held By: Michael Bennet (D)
Competitors: Michael Bennet (D) vs. Ken Buck (R)
Latest poll: Ken Buck 49% vs. Bennet 44% — CNN/Time
Ranking: Leaning Republican (75% chance of Republican pick-up)
Analysis: Buck has been consistently running 4-5 points stronger than Bennet although he has yet to make it over the magic 50% mark. This is not a gimmie race. Buck could certainly lose, but he’s definitely looking like the stronger candidate right now.

State: Illinois
Seat Currently Held By: Roland Burris (D)
Competitors: Mark Kirk (R) vs Alexi Giannoulias (D)
Latest poll: Mark Kirk 44% vs. Alexi Giannoulias 41% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Toss-up (50/50 race)
Analysis: This is a very tight race and both candidates have had their poll numbers mired in the low forties. This is still anybody’s ballgame.

State: Nevada
Seat Currently Held By: Harry Reid (D)
Competitors: Sharron Angle (R) Vs. Harry Reid (D)
Latest poll: Sharron Angle 46% vs. Harry Reid 45% — Fox
Ranking: Toss-up (50/50 race)
Analysis: The people of Nevada can’t stand Harry Reid and they’re just looking for an excuse to toss him out, but Angle is a raw candidate, she’s made some mistakes, and Reid has an enormous cash advantage. This race could still go either way, but if Angle can hang in there and convince the people of Nevada that she’s not the wild eyed extremist Harry Reid is trying to portray her as, then she will probably pull this one out.

State: West Virginia
Seat Currently Held By: Carte Goodwin (D)
Competitors: John Raese (R) vs Joe Manchin (D)
Latest poll: Joe Manchin 50% vs. John Raese 43% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Toss-up (50/50 race)
Analysis: Early on, it looked like Manchin would win this one easily, but Raese’s numbers have shot up like a rocket. Two months ago, Raese was down by 26 points. Yet, less than a week ago, a PPP poll had Raese up by 4. It’s tempting to give the edge to Raese because he’s rising so fast, but when you take a close look at the numbers in West Virginia, you find that people hate the Democratic agenda, but they really like Joe Manchin. So, that makes things a little unpredictable. If you look at Manchin’s web page, he doesn’t even have an “issues” section. In other words, you have a guy who would end up voting like a liberal Democrat in the Senate, trying to leave voters with the impression that he’ll be a center-right candidate. That’s why Raese’s tagline is, “I won’t be a rubber stamp for Barack Obama.” If he can convince West Virginians of the truth, that Manchin will be voting however Obama tells him to on tough issues, Manchin will lose.

State: New York
Seat Currently Held By: Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Competitors: Joe DioGuardi (R) vs Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Latest poll: Joe DioGuardi 44% vs. Kirsten Gillibrand 45% — Survey USA
Ranking: Toss-up (50/50 race)
Analysis: This race is a great example of how quickly things can change. Two weeks ago, very few people were talking about this race and it could have fairly been called a likely Democratic hold. Today, this seat is in play and it’s entirely possible DioGuardi could take the seat.

State: California
Seat Currently Held By: Barbara Boxer (D)
Competitors: Barbara Boxer (D) vs. Carly Fiorina (R)
Latest poll: Barbara Boxer 47% vs. Carly Fiorina 43% — Rasmussen
Ranking: Edge to Democrat (60% chance of Democrat hold)
Analysis: Boxer has been consistently holding a small but significant edge over Fiorina, but Fiorina has been slowly, but surely rising and the fact that Boxer doesn’t seem to be able to crack 50% is significant.

State: Washington
Seat Currently Held By: Patty Murray (D)
Competitors: Patty Murray (D) vs. Dino Rossi (R)
Latest poll: Patty Murray (51%) Vs. Dino Rossi (46%) — Rasmussen
Ranking: Edge to Democrat (60% chance of Democrat hold)
Analysis: Despite the fact that Murray started with an enormous money advantage, she only has a small edge and the money situation is starting to even out. Although this is a tight, but winnable race and Rossi is within striking distance, Murray has a small but significant edge going into the home stretch.

State: Connecticut
Seat Currently Held By: Christopher Dodd, (D)
Competitors: Linda McMahon (R) vs Richard Blumenthal (D)
Latest poll: Richard Blumenthal 51% vs. McMahon 45%
Ranking: Leaning Democrat (75% chance of a Democrat hold)
Analysis: McMahon’s numbers have been steadily rising and she has an enormous cashflow advantage. However, Blumenthal is a popular, blue chip candidate in a blue state and he has pretty consistently polled above 50%. McMahon could conceivably win this one, but it still looks like an uphill fight at this point. PS: From what I’ve seen, McMahon’s ads are really weak sauce. She could really use help on that front.

State: Delaware
Seat Currently Held By: Ted Kaufman (D)
Competitors: Chris Coons (D) vs. Christine O’Donnell (R)
Latest poll: Coons 55% vs. O’Donnell 37% — CNN/Time
Ranking: Likely Democrat Hold (90% chance of Dem hold)
Analysis: O’Donnell has raised 2 million dollars in short order and generated tremendous enthusiasm from the conservative base. However, Delaware is a blue state and O’Donnell’s numbers statewide had been sliding downwards before the primary and have continued to do so despite all the attention she has gotten from her primary win. It’s certainly not over yet, but O’Donnell really needs to start making up some ground in a hurry if she’s going to win.

Final Analysis: There are 3 likely Republican takeovers, 3 seats that are leaning Republican takeover, and 4 toss-ups. If the GOP wins ALL of those seats, they take back the Senate. That’s certainly possible in a wave year like this one, but a safer bet would be 2-3 toss-up wins. Were I making a prediction today, the safe bet would be on 8 seats. I’d probably “guesstimate” 9 seats. If everything went extremely well and we took everything but the likely Democrat holds, that would add up to 13 seats.

So, things are looking very good at this point, but even though it’s far from an impossibility, the odds seem to be against us taking back the Senate. However, if, for example, Rossi and Fiorina started to surge or O’Donnell took off, it could make just enough of a difference to hand the Senate back to the GOP. When we get down to those final few days, we’ll have a much better idea of how things are going to play out.

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