GOP Senate Hopes Wavering as Democrats Make Gains

Thursday, 20 Sep 2012 08:06 AM

By Martin Gould

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Republican chances of retaking the Senate in November’s elections appear to be wavering with seats the party thought it could take seemingly slipping out of its grasp.

But the party has been heartened in a handful of previously staunch Democratic states and still believes it can take the Upper Chamber, Politico reports.

Disappointing opinion polls for the GOP in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Virginia have been only partly offset by gains in Connecticut where the party had all but written off its chances of winning.

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With Maine expected to go to former Gov. Angus King — an independent who is likely to caucus with the Democrats — and Democrat Elizabeth Warren now leading GOP Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the party needs to pick up six seats currently held by Democrats to be relatively sure of victory.

Even the race in deep-red Indiana is not considered a sure thing for the Republicans following the primary defeat of long-time Sen. Dick Lugar by tea party-backed Richard Mourdock. The last poll in the state — taken nearly two months ago — showed Mourdock with only a two percentage point lead over Democrat Joe Donnelly.

The website RealClearPolitics is now predicting 48 Senate seats for the Democrats and 44 for the Republicans, with eight — Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — considered too close to call.

In recent weeks RCP has moved Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Florida from “toss-up” status to “leans Democrat,” while Wisconsin and Nevada have gone from “leans GOP” to “toss-up.” The good news for Republicans is the stronger than expected showing of candidate Linda McMahon in Connecticut, which has moved the state from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up.”

“We’ve taken a step back in some places, a step forward in other places,” a source described as a “senior Senate GOP operative” told Politico. The source also claimed that the party could hold on to retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat in Maine.

The GOP needs to gain at least three net seats — four if President Barack Obama is re-elected and vice president Joe Biden keeps the casting vote in the Senate. Its best hopes at the start of the campaign included Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

As the race has gone on however, only Nebraska — where state Rep. Deb Fischer is taking on former Democrat Sen. Bob Kerrey — is now seen as a safe gain for the GOP.

Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” threw the Missouri race wide open. He has resisted calls from within the GOP to step down, but incumbent Claire McCaskill took a commanding lead, although that is now shrinking.

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In Wisconsin, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson had a clear lead over incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin, but a new Marquette University poll has put Baldwin nine points up.

Virginia, another seat the Republicans were hoping to pick up following the retirement of Democrat Jim Webb, is also moving towards the Democrats. Two former governors, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen are facing off there, and Kaine has been increasing his lead in the polls, having won the last five.

But the GOP still has high hopes of taking North Dakota and Montana, two other states currently held by the Democrats,


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