Missouri Could Be Key to GOP Senate Control

Monday, 16 Apr 2012 07:47 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The fight over the U.S. Senate seat held by Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill is shaping up to be one of the pivotal contests this year that could determine control of Congress. At least three Republicans are vying for a chance to take on McCaskill in the November general election.
 
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Missouri race is one of several potentially tight ones where the candidates are now separated by only five or fewer percentage points.
 
That’s close enough for them to be considered toss-ups at this stage of the campaign by most political analysts, several of whom believe McCaskill’s seat may be leaning Republican this year.
 
Democrats currently control the Senate by a margin of 53-47, with the help of Independent Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernard Sanders of Vermont. But Democrats are defending 23 of the 33 seats up for re-election in November, making their job a lot tougher.
 
Political analyst Stu Rothenberg says the Missouri race is tilting Republican and is one of 10 competitive races this year, where President Barack Obama’s job approval rating could have an impact.
 
According to an analysis by the Post-Dispatch, the other states that could prove vital to Republican chances of picking up the Senate, in addition to Missouri, include: Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
 
Incumbents in seven of them — Hawaii, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin — are retiring, making them more competitive.  
 
A GOP operative told the newspaper last week that the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has already reserved some $25 million in advertising time in at least six states — Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin — to promote their candidates.
 
Larry Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told the Post-Dispatch the key races in Missouri and elsewhere for Senate control are too close to call.
 
“It’s looking like it will be a closely divided Senate, no matter how you look at it,” he said.



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