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Senate Elections to Watch on Tuesday ^ | November 5, 2012 | Brian Darling

Posted on 11/05/2012 7:00:37 AM PST by Kaslin

Most Americans will focus on election results in Ohio and Florida to see who rides those states’ Electoral College votes into the White House. But the winner of the presidential race will not automatically control the 2013 legislative agenda. Congress still matters. The battle for control of the U.S. Senate is vitally important and just as hard-fought as the top-of-the-ticket contest.

Currently, a caucus of 51 Democrats and two liberal Independents rule the upper chamber. Since the Vice President can cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, Republicans would have to pick up three seats to gain a working majority in a Romney-Ryan Administration and four seats to gain control of the gavel under a second term for President Obama.

A few months ago, Republicans looked to have a great chance to retake the Senate. Thirty-three seats are up for election, and 23 of them are occupied by members who caucus with the Democrats. But as campaign season winds down, the number of seats still “in play” has shrunk dramatically.

A dozen seats are considered “safe” for the incumbent party. Seven of these--California, Maryland, New York,Vermont, Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island—are safe for Democrats. Five—Mississippi, Wyoming,Tennessee, Utah and Texas—are safe for the GOP.

Democrats have significant leads in six other races—in Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Washington, and West Virginia—and are likely to hold those seats. And Florida and Pennsylvania are leaning Democratic (with Bill Nelson and Bob Casey, respectively) as well.

Meanwhile, both sides are expected to lose a seat. Independent Angus King looks to replace retiring Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and caucus with the Democrats. Republican Deb Fischer holds a narrowing lead over former Democratic Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey in her bid to supplant retiring Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson.

That leaves 11 seats–four occupied by Republicans and seven by Democrats—which Real Clear Politics classifies as toss-up races.

Here’s the situation in the battle for Republican-held seats:

· In Arizona, Rep. Jeff Flake (R) faces off against Richard Carmona, the former Surgeon General of the U.S. Flake has a polling lead, according to Rasmussen.

· In the race to replace Sen. Lugar (R-Ind.), conservative Richard Mourdock is battling with three term Democratic Rep. Joe Donnely. Romney is expected to win this state by over 10 percentage points, yet polling shows the Senate race close, with Mourdock support softening in the last week.

· In Massachusetts, incumbent Republican Scott Brown’s trails the Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. Brown won his Senate seat in a special election. This time he’s running in a general election, with President Obama at the top of the ticket. That makes for tough going in this Democratic stronghold.

· In Nevada, incumbent Sen. Dean Heller is struggling to fend off Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are playing defense on seven nail biters:

· Montana—A new Rasmussen poll has Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) within the margin of error. Romney is expected to win Montana big.

· North Dakota—Rep. Rick Berg (R) seems to be gaining steam, with a very good chance of defeating Heidi Heitekamp in the race to replace Democrat Kent Conrad.

· Connecticut—Republican Linda McMahon trails Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in the contest to replace retiring Independent Joe Lieberman.

· Wisconsin—Moderate Republican Tommy Thompson, a former governor, faces liberal Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin for Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat. The state is divided evenly between the parties, yet has gone Republican in two recent statewide elections—Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson

· Virginia—A presidential swing state, the Senate race here features former Republican Sen. George Allen against former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine.

· Ohio—Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) retains a polling lead against Josh Mandel.

· Missouri—Sen. Claire McCaskill leads Rep. Todd Akin. In the wake of controversial remarks about rape and conception, Akin was abandoned by national Republican leaders in a race that may determine whether Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) holds the gavel in the next Congress.

My take? A big night for either Obama or Romney will dramatically impact the 11 Senate toss-ups. If Romney romps, most of the seven Democratic-held toss-up seats could flip. (Montana and North Dakota may flip, even with an Obama victory.) Ohio, Missouri and Connecticut seem to be the most difficult contests for Republicans. McMahon will have a tough time, even with a Romney triumph. The bottom line: A good night for Republicans would get them to 51 seats.

Best case scenario for Democrats hinges on a big win for Obama. Under that scenario, they hold all their endangered seats (with Montana still being difficult) and pick up maybe two of the GOP-held cliff hangers. Hence, a good night for Democrats would net a one seat pick-up, giving them 54 seats.

Election night isn’t just about who gets to sit in the Oval Office. Who rules the Senate will go a long way toward determining which policies ripen and which wither on the vine throughout the next session of Congress.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: barackobama; clairemccaskill; deanheller; dennyrehberg; elizabethwarren; georgeallen; jeffflake; jontester; lindamcmahon; mittromney; richardmourdock; rickberg; scottbrown; senate; timkaine; toddakin

1 posted on 11/05/2012 7:00:38 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Pa. might be “leaning” toward Casey but I sense a surprise coming tomorrow night. Tom Smith has run a great campaign and I believe it will turn toward his election in the end.

2 posted on 11/05/2012 7:11:52 AM PST by Russ (Repeal the 17th amendment)
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To: Kaslin

A decisive Romney win in Ohio would hopefully take Mandel over the line. Much like the additions of Lee, Toomey, Ron Jonson and Rubio in 2010, I would be elated to see Mandel join the Senate. He’d be such a great conservative ally for years to come.

On a side note, is Mack DOA in FL? So little coverage of this race, even as Romney seems to have taken a commanding lead here.

3 posted on 11/05/2012 7:12:36 AM PST by ilgipper (Obama supporters are comprised of the uninformed & the ill-informed)
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To: Kaslin

I call them Russian Roulette Republicans. From a 75% chance to control the Senate just three months ago to a 33% chance. Way to go, Pubbies!

4 posted on 11/05/2012 7:16:33 AM PST by pabianice (washington, dc ..)
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To: ilgipper
On a side note, is Mack DOA in FL?

Yes. Mack is a weak candidate - a moderate empty suit living off his family's good name.

I expect Flake, Fischer, Rehberg, Heller, Berg, Thompson to win.

Smith has a shot against Casey, and Allen-Kaine is a nailbiter. I'm very worried about Mourdock. I think Mandel will underperform Romney and that may not be enough.

5 posted on 11/05/2012 7:29:05 AM PST by Skulllspitter
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To: Kaslin

Local Reno channel this AM said that Shelley Berkley has ‘loaned’ her own campaign $250,000 at the last minute.

I don’t think she will unseat Dean Heller anyway, but needing this kind of truly last minute ‘loan’ of $250,00 tells me she is in financial trouble as well.

She is currently under indictment in the House for Ethics voilations. IF the House would have moved faster on getting her hammered, this race might not even be happening.

6 posted on 11/05/2012 7:35:27 AM PST by ridesthemiles
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To: Russ

A pro-life PAC is running some devastating ads against Casey. They are playing clips of his late father giving passionate pro-life speeches, interspersed with the son doing the complete polar opposite.

7 posted on 11/05/2012 8:38:14 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: ilgipper

Mitt Romney endorsed him the other day

8 posted on 11/05/2012 9:14:59 AM PST by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: pabianice

Instead of salivating prematurely, why don’t you wait and see.

9 posted on 11/05/2012 9:16:51 AM PST by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Skulllspitter
I'm very worried about Mourdock.

As am I. Rightly or wrongly, his campaign is tone-deaf to the realities of sound-bites, of YouTube, and the Internet, and he's offered little to counter the effects of his "twisted words" associated with abortion. Many in Indiana understand that his answer didn't come out correctly, but Mourdock is being pilloried in very effective ads.

I suspect that we'll know very early on, how this race will go. To think at one time, he led easily by double-digits.

10 posted on 11/05/2012 10:55:49 AM PST by Lou L (Health "insurance" is NOT the same as health "care")
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To: Kaslin

We should get results early. Here’s the states that close at 7:00 Tuesday (Eastern Time):

Georgia (easy Romney)
Indiana (easy Romney)
Kentucky (easy Romney)
South Carolina (easy Romney)
Vermont (easy Donkeys)
Virginia (Hmmm, could take awhile to call)

Lotsa Red Paint to start the night off!

11 posted on 11/05/2012 11:19:05 AM PST by cookcounty ("When I speak, I say what I mean and I mean what I say!" ---Joe Biden, 10/11/2012)
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