has begun a monthly list of the 10 most competitive 2012 Senate races in the country, and Virginia tops the list. Here’s its first list, posted this week.
1. VIRGINIA – Republican George Allen has now officially entered the race, setting up a hot rematch with Democratic Sen. Jim Webb. The Democrat beat Allen by only 9,329 votes in 2006.
Latest Poll: Webb 41 percent, Allen 40 percent -- Clarus Research Group.
2. MISSOURI – Former GOP Sen. Jim Talent’s decision to forgo a rematch against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is the big news here. That makes former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman the GOP front-runner. Latest Poll: McCaskill 45 percent, Steelman 44 percent -- Public Policy Polling.
3. FLORIDA – Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson faces several potential strong Republican challengers, including State Senate President Mike Haridopolos. Latest Poll: Nelson 47 percent, Haridopolos 36 percent -- Public Policy Polling.
4. NEVADA – Scandal-plagued Republican Sen. John Ensign looks likely to run again. He may lose to Carson City Rep. Dean Heller in a primary. Latest Poll: Heller 45 percent, Democratic Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman 35 percent -- Public Policy Polling.
5. OHIO – Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is stronger than Democrats in many other states, but big Republican gains in the state last year almost guarantee that he will face a strong challenger. Latest Poll: Brown 45 percent, Generic Republican 33 percent -- Quinnipiac University.
6. MASSACHUSETTS – GOP Sen. Scott Brown has strong approval ratings and equally strong finances. But Democrats are eager to take back the seat long held by the Ted Kennedy. Latest Poll: Brown 52 percent, Rep. Mike Capuano 36 percent -- Public Policy Polling.
7. MONTANA – Sen. Jon Tester is another vulnerable Democrat, despite building a reputation as a moderate. Popular six-term Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg could pose a major threat. Latest Poll: Rehberg 48 percent, Tester 46 percent -- Public Policy Polling.
8. MICHIGAN – Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow has seen her approval rating fall to the 30s. But there’s no obvious opponent. Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra may run. Latest Poll: Stabenow 47 percent, Hoekstra 41 percent -- Wilson Research Strategies.
9. NEBRASKA – Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson hasn’t officially announced that he’ll run again, and he may have trouble if he does. Republican Attorney General Jon Bruning presents a viable alternative. Latest Poll: Bruning 52 percent, Nelson 38 percent – Magellan.
10. WEST VIRGINIA – Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin already has fallen in hot water for missing two big lame-duck session votes. GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito would represent a strong opponent. Latest Poll: Manchin 51 percent, Capito 41 percent -- Public Policy Polling.
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