With Christine O’Donnell’s victory in Delaware earlier this wake, most political prognosticators have moved that seat from likely Republican to likely Democratic, with some saying GOP hopes for capturing the Senate are lost.
Not so fast. With Kelly Ayotte’s victory in New Hampshire and her opponent’s classy endorsement, she’s likely to get a bump in the polls and solidify her long-standing lead. And with Potrman, Blunt and Rubio surging in Ohio, Missouri and Florida respectively, it looks like Republicans will hold all their seats. So, that means, they start with 41.
If current trends continue, Democratic seats in Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota and Pennsylvania are certain to flip, bringing us up to 45. So, if the Republicans run the tables on the six races now considered tossups, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Washington and Wisconsin, they have a majority. And recall the “rule” for Senate elections — all the close races tend to go to the same party.
Right now, Republicans look likely to take Colorado and Illinois. And with Sherron Angle edging ahead in a poll which skews left, Nevada could follow suit. And we haven’t seen a post-primary poll in Wisconsin. Methinks, the Badger State’s going to go our way.*
Watch for the Democrats to fight hard to keep Illinois (the president’s home state) and Nevada (can’t be losing our Majority Leader, can we?). And Democrats still have fighting chances in California (groan) and Washington State.
But, Republicans also have other opportunities. The Cook Political Report recently moved Connecticut to the “Tossup” category. And if Democrats overplay their hand in Delaware, that state could again come into play.
And then there’s West Virginia. While 70% of voters in the Mountain State approve of the job Governor and Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin is doing, the same number disapprove of the job Obama is doing, “one of his highest negative ratings in any state.”
If Republican nominee John Raese can can get out his message that Manchin “does one thing in West Virginia, but when you look at his national issues, it’s very much in favor of Barack Obama,” he could win. Some people who like the job the Governor is doing may just sit home on election day, content to keep Machin right where he is.
Given the mood we’ve seen manifest in the primaries across the country, with higher GOP turnout and a disdain for establishment politicians, a two- to three-point deficit for a Republican challenger could mean an even race or even a slight advantage for the Republican.
So, if we add Connecticut and West Virginia to the mix, eight seats are in play, with one seat in New York potentially ours for the taking if the stars align.
UPDATE: The latest Rasmussen poll confirms my hunch:
Rasmussen finds winning the primary has given Ron Johnson’s numbers a pop: “After a decisive win in Tuesday’s Republican Primary, businessman Ron Johnson now holds a seven-point lead over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Johnson picking up 51 percent support, while Feingold earns the vote from 44 percent. One percent of voters prefer some other candidate, and four percent remain undecided.”