Don’t discount GOP’s chances for taking the Senate

The conventional wisdom in the political community is that Republicans will probably win the House in the midterm election but fall short of capturing the Senate.  Maybe, but Republicans have at least a 50-50 shot at taking the Senate, too.

Republicans need to capture 10 seats to take over the Senate.  I’m assuming they’ll hold all their seats in the November 2 election, including the open Republican seats.  Republicans are ahead in all of them.

There are more than as many as 14 Democratic seats in play.  More important for Republicans, there are 10 in which their candidates are ahead in polls or tied.  I’ve ranked the 10 on the basis of their likelihood of winning.

1.    North Dakota.  Governor John Hoeven is a shoo-in.

2.    Arkansas.  John Boozman’s lead over Senator Blanche Lincoln is so lopsided that RealClearPolitics already calls the seat “safe Republican.”

3.    Indiana.  Dan Coats, a former senator, had a tough primary but now is cruising to victory.

4.    Pennsylvania.  Pat Toomey’s lead has been steady for months over Joe Sestak.

5.    Colorado.  Democrats thought Ken Buck would be easy to beat.  Wrong.  His lead is growing.

6.    Wisconsin.  Ron Johnson is inexperienced but that hasn’t kept him from opening a double-digit lead over Senator Russ Feingold.

7.    West Virginia.  The dumbest move of the year was Democratic Governor Joe Manchin’s embrace of Obamacare in a state that has been trending Republican for a decade.  Advantage John Raese.

8.    Illinois.  Mark Kirk has stumbled but Alexi Giannoulias is eminently beatable in a worst-case year for Democrats in Barack Obama’s home state.

9.    Nevada.  Harry Reid can’t get above 44 percent in polls.  That’s a recipe for losing to Sharron Angle.

10.   Washington.  A good Republican candidate with a tailwind behind him can win in this normally Democratic state.  Thus Dino Rossi has a good chance of ousting Patty Murray.

Notice the four contests I’ve left out:  Connecticut, California, New York, and Delaware.  Republicans could win all four, and they have strong candidates who are running only slightly behind in Connecticut (Linda McMahon) and California (Carly Fiorina).

My estimate for Republican pickups is 60 in the House and 10 in the Senate. Not a bad haul for a party that was supposed to be in the wilderness for a decade or more.  Instead of the wilderness years, it’s been the wilderness months for Republicans.

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