The control of the Senate remains in doubt, but surprise twists have given Democrats the advantage this November.
While signs of the Democrats retaining control of the Senate are encouraging, there are too many toss-up races to confidently predict what the Senate will look like in 2013.
Political expert Charlie Cook recently noted, for the first 13 months of the election cycle the odds favored Republican control of the Senate beginning in 2013. Cook now says while the odds of a Republican majority were once 65-70%, now they are 50% or less — in part depending on if Rep. Todd Akin (R) stays in the Missouri Senate contest.
Politico surveyed more than a dozen Republican strategists on prospects for the Senate and found that “the GOP Senate takeover they all thought was almost a sure thing a year ago now looks like a coin flip at best.”
Reminder: polls are a snapshot in time. There will be many ebbs and flows between now and the election and none of the campaigns listed below have such a commanding lead that would preclude lead shifts by election day.
At this time these are the most competitive races. Here’s where our contributions matter:*
Arizona: Several polls show former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona (D) even or closely behind Rep. Jeff Flake (R), belying attempts from some pundits to concede the race to the Republican.
Connecticut: Money may not buy love, but Linda McMahon (R) is trying again to find out if it can buy a Senate seat. While $50 million did not work in her 2010 Senate race, her campaign spending this time around has pulled her into a narrow lead against Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in a state that Republicans once thought was beyond their grasp.
Florida: Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) has a lead in most polls and a large fundraising advantage, but Republicans still have hopes that Rep. Connie Mack (R) can pull an upset.
Hawaii: While Republicans produced their strongest possible candidate in former Gov. Linda Lingle (R), several polls show her far behind Rep. Mazie Hirono (D). Lingle would have to overcome a major Obama tide in the state.
Maine: In the most unusual contest in the country, independent former Governor Angus King remains far ahead of either Republican Charlie Summers or Democrat Cynthia Dill. While U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee ads cut into King’s lead, candidates in other states would kill for King’s 18 point lead.
Massachusetts: Two of the most adept fundraisers in the country — political newcomer Elizabeth Warren (D) and Sen. Scott Brown (R) — are facing off against each other and are even in the polls. Neither side will lack money for their fall campaigns.
Michigan: While Republicans continue to hope that former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) can pull an upset, incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is maintaining a solid but not safe lead.
Missouri: The Show Me state has become the Show Me The Door state after Rep. Todd Akin (R) severely damaged his candidacy by his comments about “legitimate rape.” While the national party has turned its back on Akin and Karl Rove has made it clear he would like to see the death of Akin’s candidacy, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is not secure despite pulling into a lead.
Montana: When Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) decided to challenge Sen. Jon Tester many months ago, the contest became a toss-up and has not budged since.
Nebraska: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) has fallen behind Deb Fischer (R), a come-from-behind primary winner against two better known candidates, and he has a tough campaign ahead to catch up.
Nevada: An ethics investigation was widely thought to have sunk the candidacy of Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) against Sen. Dean Heller (R), but polls continue to show a close race and in Las Vegas there are no sure bets.
New Mexico: There have been signs in the past weeks that Republicans have abandoned hope in the chances of former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) against Rep. Martin Heinrich (D). They have pulled political advertisements from the state and have turned the focus of their attention and dollars to other races.
North Dakota: Much to Republicans’ surprise, Rep. Rick Berg (R) is only even with former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D). Republicans have begun mounting a rescue operation by reportedly taking money from campaigns in Missouri and New Mexico and transferring it for war in the Peace Garden state.
Ohio: Josh Mandel (R) has many friends who have poured in some $16 million in independent expenditures, and incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D) lead has shrunk; some polls show the contest even.
Virginia: Former Governor Tim Kaine (D) and former Senator George Allen (R) have been locked in an even contest from the beginning. Republicans have tried to gain a lead by hammering away at Kaine’s close relationship with President Obama, but their efforts have yet to pay off and the candidates remain tied.
Wisconsin: Republicans lucked out when a four-way primary in August produced their strongest possible candidate in former Governor Tommy Thompson (R). Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) can win, but she is trailing by single digits.
Elections that started ominously last year have taken a significant turn for the better. You assistance to candidates supported by Council for a Livable World can help propel many of these candidates to victory, but time is short. Click here to make contributions.
*Bolded candidates endorsed by Council for a Livable World
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