In the battle for the Senate, Democrats are primed to pick up a minimum of four seats — with the potential for more. There are 35 seats at stake, with Republicans controlling 23 of them and Democrats, 12. Here's how they stand now; predicted changes in party control are in italics and tossups in bold. (For more detail, go to our interactive map).
REPUBLICANS: Alabama (Jeff Sessions), Alaska (Ted Stevens), Colorado (open, Wayne Allard), Georgia (Saxby Chambliss), Idaho (open, Larry Craig), Kansas (Pat Roberts), Kentucky (Mitch McConnell), Maine (Susan Collins), Minnesota (Norm Coleman), Mississippi (Thad Cochran), Mississippi special (Roger Wicker), Nebraska (open, Chuck Hagel), New Hampshire (John Sununu), New Mexico (open, Pete Domenici), North Carolina (Elizabeth Dole), Oklahoma (Jim Inhofe), Oregon (Gordon Smith), South Carolina (Lindsey Graham), Tennessee (Lamar Alexander), Texas (John Cornyn), Virginia (open, John Warner), Wyoming (Mike Enzi), Wyoming special (John Barrasso).
DEMOCRATS: Arkansas (Mark Pryor), Delaware (Joe Biden), Illinois (Dick Durbin), Iowa (Tom Harkin), Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), Massachusetts (John Kerry), Michigan (Carl Levin), Montana (Max Baucus), New Jersey (Frank Lautenberg), Rhode Island (Jack Reed), South Dakota (Tim Johnson), West Virginia (Jay Rockefeller).
And speaking of Senate races:
Q: Both Mississippi and Wyoming will be electing two senators this year. What is the largest number of states in one year to hold elections for both of its Senate seats on the same day? — Nathan Empsall, Hanover, N.H.
A: Crack NPR librarian Kee Malesky asked the same question just the other day. When I told her that I was planning to run your question, Kee decided to do some digging on her own. She came up with this:
The last time both Senate seats were decided on the same day in three states was in 1962. In Idaho, along with the regularly scheduled re-election bid of Sen. Frank Church (D), there was a special election to fill the seat of the late Henry Dworshak (R), which was won by ex-Gov. Len Jordan (R). Kansas voters re-elected Sen. Frank Carlson (R) and sent James Pearson (R) to the Senate to replace the late Andrew Schoeppel (R). And in New Hampshire, Sen. Norris Cotton (R) was re-elected, but the other seat went to Democrat Thomas McIntyre, who succeeded the late Styles Bridges (R).
Three states also had that distinction in 1954, but they entailed seven Senate races. Again we had New Hampshire, which re-elected the aforementioned Bridges and first elected the also aforementioned Cotton to replace the late Charles Tobey (R). In North Carolina, there were in fact two special elections: W. Kerr Scott succeeded the late Willis Smith, and Sam Ervin succeeded the late Clyde Hoey. All were Democrats.
It got a bit confusing in Nebraska, where there were actually three Senate elections on Election Day, all won by Republicans to replace deceased Republicans. Rep. Carl Curtis won the special election to replace the late Sen. Dwight Griswold, and Rep. Roman Hruska took the seat of the late Sen. Hugh Butler. But there was another Senate race on the ballot that year. After Griswold died, Eva Bowring, the vice chair of the Nebraska GOP, was appointed to fill the seat. According to state law, her appointment was only until Election Day, when a candidate would be elected to finish out the final two months of the term. Bowring decided she didn't want to run in that special special election. Hazel Abel, who succeeded Bowring as state party vice chair, won a 16-candidate primary in August and then beat a Democrat in November to serve until Jan. 3.
Tell me what other political column gives you such crucial information.
Q: What year did Abe Beame (mayor), Frank O'Connor (city council president) and Mario Procaccino (comptroller) run on the Democratic ticket in New York City? — Vincent Shea, Haworth, N.J.
A: The year was 1965. O'Connor and Procaccino were successful, but Beame lost the mayoralty to the Republican-Liberal candidate, Congressman John Lindsay. Lindsay became the city's first GOP mayor since Fiorello La Guardia left office after three terms in 1945.