2010 Senate Ratings:  Republicans Look Poised To Pick Up At Least 5 Seats

I figured, with everything going on in the political world and the resumption of the primaries next week, it's time to update my ratings of Senate races at stake this year.  My last update was back on Feb. 16, when I had the Republicans on course to net four seats.

The GOP picture has improved since then.  The changes: 

Arkansas:  Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (D) troubles move this race from Tossup to Republican Pickup.  Lincoln is still far from assured of winning renomination in next month's primary.  (Latest Arkansas post.)

California:  Goes from Safe Demcratic to Democrat Favored, as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) has shown surprising weakness in the polls.  I still think she's favored to win at this point, but we'll further gauge her suvivability after the June 8 GOP primary.

Kentucky:  In the race for the seat being vacated by GOP incumbent Jim Bunning, I'm moving this from Tossup to Republican Favored.  Polls show that either GOP candidate — Rand Paul or Trey Grayson — would win in November.  But let's keep a close watch on Republican unity after the May 18 primary.

One bit of caution for the GOP however:  I'm downgrading Arizona from Safe Republican to Republican Favored.  Things are too fluid there right now, especially in the wake of the state Legislature's passage of the immigration bill.

Some anticipated ratings changes never happened.  Had former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) decided to run against Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in Wisconsin, we might have been looking at a competitive race.  With no Thompson, we're not. 

And despite the brouhaha in Florida, Republicans are still favored to retain that seat.  (Latest Florida post.)

Here's the latest on all 36 Senate seats up in 2010:

SAFE DEMOCRATIC (7):  Hawaii (Daniel Inouye), Maryland (Barbara Mikulski), New York (Charles Schumer), Oregon (Ron Wyden), Vermont (Patrick Leahy), Washington (Patty Murray), Wisconsin (Russ Feingold).

DEMOCRAT FAVORED (3):  California (Barbara Boxer), Connecticut (open seat — Chris Dodd retiring), New York special (Kirsten Gillibrand).

TOSSUP DEM SEATS (3):  Colorado (Michael Bennet), Nevada (Harry Reid), Pennsylvania (Arlen Specter).

EXPECTED DEM LOSSES/GOP PICKUPS (5):  Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Delaware special (open seat — Ted Kaufman will not run), Illinois (open seat — Roland Burris will not run), Indiana (open seat — Evan Bayh retiring), North Dakota (open seat — Byron Dorgan retiring).

EXPECTED GOP LOSSES/DEM PICKUPS (0):  None at the moment.

TOSSUP GOP SEATS (3):  Missouri (open seat — Kit Bond retiring), New Hampshire (open seat — Judd Gregg retiring), Ohio (open seat — George Voinovich retiring).

REPUBLICAN FAVORED (5):  Arizona (John McCain), Florida (open seat — George LeMieux will not run), Kentucky (open seat — Jim Bunning retiring), Louisiana (David Vitter), North Carolina (Richard Burr).

SAFE REPUBLICAN (10):  Alabama (Richard Shelby), Alaska (Lisa Murkowski), Georgia (Johnny Isakson), Idaho (Mike Crapo), Iowa (Charles Grassley), Kansas (open seat — Sam Brownback retiring), Oklahoma (Tom Coburn), South Carolina (Jim DeMint), South Dakota (John Thune), Utah (Bob Bennett).

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