Senate Races 2012: State by State Analysis of Key Senate Races
Control of the U.S. Senate is very much at stake, unlike the House, which will most likely remain under Republican control. Currently the Democrats enjoy a 53 to 47 seat lead in the Senate, and current polling indicates that the Republicans are likely to remain in the minority. Real Clear Politics gives the breakdown of this election's closest senate races:
When Jon Kyl (R) announced his retirement effective January, very few dared to think this would a seat the Democrats could steal from the GOP. However, Congressman Jeff Flake (R) and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) are locked in a shockingly tight race. While Flake may persevere, the polls indicate a close race, which should concern Republicans in the coming years here.
For the second time in two years, Linda McMahon is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. In 2010 she lost to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) in the race for the seat of the retiring Chris Dodd (D). Now the pro wrestling executive and wife of WWE founder Vince McMahon finds herself up against Congressman Chris Murphy to fill the seat of the retiring Joe Lieberman (I) who caucuses with the Democrats. The latest polls indicate that McMahon may taste defeat once again.
Senator Bill Nelson (D) should be able to fend off challenger Congressman Connie Mack IV to serve a third term. One of the more conservative Democrats in the senate, Nelson does not enjoy strong favorability ratings. Still, even if Romney wins Florida, there should be enough Romney/Nelson voters to hand defeat to Mack.
In Indiana, Richard Mourdock (R) infamously said in a debate that he opposes abortion in even cases of rape because God intended for the pregnancy to happen. Mourdock is a Tea Party favorite who defeated six-term incumbent Dick Lugar in the Republican primary. The polls in that race are wildly disparate. Mourdock's opponent is pro-life Democrat Joe Donnelly.
With Senator Olympia Snowe (R) retiring in January, the GOP will lose this seat; not to Democrat Cynthia Dill (D), as she's only polling at 11%, but to independent Angus King. According to a poll released Sunday, King has led Charlie Summers (R) by double digits in according to the latest polls (not included below). King is a popular former two-term governor of the state. As an independent, he would most likely caucus with the Democrats in the Senate given his political positions, such as supporting Obamacare and same-sex marriage.
The second most expensive and arguably most high-profile Senate race is between Senator Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D). Republicans managed to pick up a seat in the 2010 special election held to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy when Brown upset Attorney General Martha Coakley. As polls suggest, Warren has proven a much stronger candidate than Coakley, and as a result, Warren seems poised for victory. Seven of the last nine polls released in this race show her leading Brown. However, a poll released by UMass Lowell and the Boston Herald on Sunday give Brown a slim edge.
The Republicans were hoping former Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R) could knock off incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D), but that seems unlikely at this point. Nationally, Hoekstra is most famous for this Super Bowl commercial that aired in the state.
While the Massachusetts race may be the most watched, the most infamous races are in Missouri and Indiana. Both those races feature Republicans candidates who have received major criticism as a result of comments they made concerning rape. Here, Congressman Todd Akin (R) was hoping to unseat incumbent Claire McCaskill (D), but his campaign has suffered since he claimed that women cannot be become pregnant as a result of what he called "legitimate rape." The last seven polls show McCaskill leading.
Republicans have a real chance to pick up a seat in Montana, where first term senator Jon Tester (D) is clearly vulnerable. Tester won this seat in the 2006 elections when the unpopularity of the Republicans Party across most parts of the country led to a loss of six senate seats for the GOP. His opponent is Montana's at-large Congressman, Denny Rehberg (R). Rehberg is the state's only congressman, and has represented Montana since 2001.
The Democrats were hoping they would be able to hold onto this seat after Ben Nelson (D) announced his retirement, by recruiting former senator Bob Kerrey (D). A former governor and two-term senator of the state, Kerrey appears slated for defeat against Deb Fischer (R).
After Senator John Ensign (R) resigned from the senate in disgrace in May 2011, Congressman Dean Heller (R) was appointed to finish the remainder of Ensign's term which ends in January. Democrats were hoping to pick this seat in Nevada, which is turning bluer each year. But the latest polls do not have good news for challenger, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D).
The Republicans should be able to pick up this seat with retirement of Kent Conrad (D). First-term Congressman Rick Berg (R) looks like the favorite here, but Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) has been polling surprisingly well. Berg should win, but a Heitkamp victory shouldn't shock anyone.
One would hardly think that 2012 is a good year to be running for senate in Ohio as liberal firebrand, but incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) may defy the prevailing political winds by defeating challenger Josh Mandel (R). While Brown unabashed liberalism might have cost him against a moderate challenger, Mandel is perhaps too conservative to win this race.
All signs point to reelection to a second term for Bob Casey, Jr. (D). Not a single independent poll taken since last year shows challenger Tom Smith (R) leading. Like numerous other GOP Senate candidates in this year's field, Smith — a Democrat until 2011 — believes abortion should be banned, even when a woman has been raped.
Democrat Jim Webb is retiring from the senate after one term, and the battle for his seat pits former Virginia governors Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) against each other. Allen is running for his old seat, which Webb wrested from him in the 2006 midterm election bloodbath, in which the Democrats regained control of both houses from the GOP.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D) and former Governor Tommy Thompson (R) are battling for the seat of the retiring Herb Kohl (D). While Thompson is generally popular, polls have been less than favorable for him.
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