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A look at the Senate – 20 seats to watch

Since December, I have been calling a likely 8 or 9 seat pick up, plus or minus two seats, for the GOP. At that time, it looked extremely unlikely to most people and most folks did not agree with me. This will be my penultimate installation in the look at Senate seats:

SAFE GOP PICK UPS:

1. ND – Gov. Hoeven is so far ahead it is ridiculous.

2. AR – A solid lock in a year when the GOP will not only begin to take over the state’s Senate seats, but the House seats should flip from 3-1 Dem to 3-1 GOP. The governor’s mansion will have to wait, but this state is trending from blue to red in a strong way. Prior is probably more strongly considering retirement around now as well.

3. IN – Once again, Senator Coats.

LIKELY GOP PICK UPS

4. PA – At last, Senator Toomey will arrive. A pro-growth fiscal conservative and a strong social conservative is up 5-10 points.

5. WI – Goodbye Feingold, who trails the soon Senator Johnson by about 5-10 points.

6. CO – the unelected Sen. Bennett said he would vote for health care even if it cost him his seat. He did. And it will. He know trails tea party and RedState backed Ken Buck by 51-43 on Rasmussen.

LEANS GOP PICK UP

7. NV – Harry Reid has run a disgustingly dirty campaign. But in the end, this is still the same guy who has lead the country to disaster and had approval ratings in the 30s. He has become anathema, a symbol of what is wrong with politicians, selling out the beliefs he professed which landed him in office. While Rasmussen has Sharon Angle at a 48-47 disadvantage, and similarly the RCP average has Reid up a point or two, the late breakers will give advantage to Angle. Plus, I think we will witness a high performance on election day for the grassroots based tea party candidates like Angle that will surprise everyone by beating their poll numbers by a few points.

8. IL – Though I’ve had my doubts about Kirk, he looks like he is a slight favorite to win in the heavily Democratic stronghold of the midwest.

9. WV – Raese has an edge over Gov. Manchin and is running a good campaign by running against Obama.

Leans Democratic

10. WA – While the numbers bounce back and forth, this is still very winnable against Sen. Murray. Dino Rossi is a strong candidate for the state of WA and is within a few points in the RCP average.

11. CT – I had serious doubts about McMahon at first, but she has made this race very close. If her momentum continues much longer, she could pull this out.

12. CA – Fiorina seems to be slipping further behind Babs Boxer but is only 4-6 points behind. She’s got some work to do to right the ship, but there is time.

Likely Democrat

13. NY-S – Gillibrand is probably still an odds on favorite to win in NY, but the numbers have her with only a 5-10 points lead lately. Its hers to lose.

14. DE – Once a safe GOP pick up, its now looking likely Dem hold, but I can’t say I’ll mourn the loss of Mike Castle. This is really like losing half a GOP seat, not a whole one. Still Christine O’ Donnell has tea party support and time. This nonsense about her missing taxes is such a manufactured issue to portray her as irresponsible. But if she can refocus the attention on how her opponent is too liberal for the seat, she could pull this off. Don’t forget, she overcame long odds to topple Castle, and Coons is a piss poor candidate in his own right. If she starts to narrow the race, I fully expect an outpouring of support for her.

GOP Holds

15. FL – Rubio is running away with it. A huge political star rising for our party, a poster child for outreach to the Hispanic community for conservatism, and an outstanding conservative on top of it all.

16. OH – This was once a close race, but if its not a safe GOP seat yet, its still a highly likely GOP hold. This is a state that has said it would vote for Bush ahead of Obama by about 9 points according to one poll.

17. MO – This race leans GOP by about 5-10 points with Blunt over Carnahan.

18. NH – The state GOP is united and firmly behind Ayotte. Both House seats look likely to flip to GOP and the tea party has cultivated an excellent candidate for a few years down the road on the bench in Lamontagne.

19. NC – Once a Dem target, this seat is now a safe GOP hold.

20. CT again – If the GOP picks up 9 seats, look possibly for Lieberman to switch parties.

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