The Battle For The Senate: Republicans On Track To Pick Up 7 Seats : It's All Politics With just a few days to go before the election, we are showing Republicans likely to make significant gains in the battle for the Senate -- but not the net of 10 seats needed to take control.
NPR logo The Battle For The Senate: Republicans On Track To Pick Up 7 Seats

The Battle For The Senate: Republicans On Track To Pick Up 7 Seats

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Well, it's crunch time.  Election Day is almost upon us.  And Republicans are poised to make huge gains.

But enough to make Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader?  It doesn't look that way.

I'll have a complete review of the House in a subsequent post.  For now, my review of all 37 Senate seats at stake on Tuesday shows Democrats in some amount of jeopardy of losing the majority they won four years ago.  But for the GOP to take control, they are going to have to win all of the so-called Tossup races.  And I don't see that happening.

There seems to be little question that Republicans are going to take away Democratic Senate seats in Arkansas (where Blanche Lincoln is seeking a third term), Indiana (where Evan Bayh is retiring) and North Dakota (where Byron Dorgan is also leaving).

I now have the GOP taking four more as well:  Colorado, where Dem appointee Michael Bennet is narrowly trailing Ken Buck; Illinois, the former seat of President Obama (and current seat of appointee Roland Burris) where Mark Kirk (R) is marginally ahead of Alexi Giannoulias (D); Pennsylvania, where Pat Toomey (R) should defeat Joe Sestak (D), conqueror of Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary; and Wisconsin, where newcomer Ron Johnson (R) has continuously held a lead over three-term incumbent Russ Feingold.

And I have Republicans keeping all of their open seats — Marco Rubio in Florida to replace appointee George LeMieux, Jerry Moran in Kansas to replace gov. candidate Sam Brownback, Rand Paul in Kentucky to replace the retiring Jim Bunning, Roy Blunt in Missouri to replace the retiring Kit Bond, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire to replace the retiring Judd Gregg, Rob Portman in Ohio to replace the retiring George Voinovich, and Mike Lee in Utah to replace Bob Bennett, who was defeated for renomination at the state convention.

And while Alaska is so unpredictable, given the controversies surrounding GOP nominee Joe Miller and the uncertainty over defeated Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski's bid for re-election as a write-in candidate, I'm still thinking that Miller survives.

At the same time, Democrats seem to be breathing a bit more comfortably in California, where Sen. Barbara Boxer may be weathering the challenge from Carly Fiorina.  Ditto in Washington, where Sen. Patty Murray's prospects for a fourth term look fairly decent against Dino Rossi.

And while I understand that Obama may be a serious drag on Democratic prospects in West Virginia, I think Gov. Joe Manchin (D) holds on to win the seat long held by Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year.

I'm still not ready to call Nevada.  Maybe I'm just dumbstruck by the thought of an unheralded candidate like Sharron Angle defeating the majority leader of the United States Senate.  But if she does win — and my gut tells me she does not, but who knows? — it will be the perfect metaphor for the anger and unhappiness that has defined Campaign 2010.

Here is my latest review of the Senate, the first since Sept. 30.  Don't forget to click on my Election Scorecard to see how my picks in every Senate, gubernatorial and key House race compare with other analysts.

SAFE DEMOCRATIC (7): Delaware special (open seat - Ted Kaufman will not run), Hawaii (Daniel Inouye), Maryland (Barbara Mikulski), New York (Charles Schumer), New York special (Kirsten Gillibrand), Oregon (Ron Wyden), Vermont (Patrick Leahy).

DEMOCRAT FAVORED (4): California (Barbara Boxer), Connecticut (open seat - Chris Dodd retiring), Washington (Patty Murray), West Virginia (open seat — Carte Goodwin will not run).

TOSSUP DEM SEATS (1): Nevada (Harry Reid).

EXPECTED DEM LOSSES/GOP PICKUPS (7): Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Colorado (Michael Bennet), Illinois (open seat - Roland Burris will not run), Indiana (open seat - Evan Bayh retiring), North Dakota (open seat - Byron Dorgan retiring), Pennsylvania (open seat - Arlen Specter lost primary), Wisconsin (Russ Feingold).

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

TOSSUP GOP SEATS (0): None at the moment.

REPUBLICAN FAVORED (8): Alaska (open seat — Lisa Murkowski lost primary), Florida (open seat - George LeMieux will not run), Kentucky (open seat - Jim Bunning retiring), Louisiana (David Vitter), Missouri (open seat - Kit Bond retiring), New Hampshire (open seat - Judd Gregg retiring), North Carolina (Richard Burr), Ohio (open seat - George Voinovich retiring).

SAFE REPUBLICAN (10): Alabama (Richard Shelby), Arizona (John McCain), 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 (open seat - Bob Bennett denied renomination).