After weeks of almost-unanimous predictions that Republicans would lose control of the Senate this fall, doubts are emerging that the Democrats can win.
Democrats might just fall short of the five seats they need for a clear majority, a panel at the American Enterprise Institute heard last week.
"Democrats have a chance at winning a tie in the Senate," said Norman Ornstein, AEI resident scholar and longtime election analyst for CBS News and the BBC. And if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, "Vice President Tim Kaine would cast the tie-breaking vote to give Democrats control."
Ohio: GOP: Although Ornstein felt that Democrats have a better chance of winning the Senate than recent forecasting models show, he noted that Democrats "have now written off Ohio." Freshman Republican Sen. Rob Portman was once considered a vulnerable target for Democratic assault; several polls now show him comfortably leading Democrat and former Gov. Ted Strickland.
The Quinnipiac Poll agreed with Ornstein, with its latest survey of likely Buckeye State voters showing Portman leading Strickland by 51 percent to 40 percent.
"Sen. Portman has taken a double-digit lead in Ohio, where the once-tight race appears to be moving away from Strickland," concluded Quinnipiac, noting that Portman leads his opponent by a 53 percent to 36 percent count among independents and 46 percent to 45 percent among women.
Indiana: Democrat: In the comeback bid of former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh for the seat Republican Sen. Dan Coats is relinquishing, Ornstein said "Bayh stumbled badly" and "there is a great deal of Republican money going into Indiana."
Bayh has been tripped up by questions regarding just how often he has lived in Indiana since leaving the Senate in 2010 and whether or not he is actually a resident of the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.
A just-completed Monmouth University poll showed Bayh leading Republican Rep. Todd Young by 48 percent to 41 percent statewide.
Wisconsin: Democrat?: Marquette University's latest poll showed freshman GOP Sen. and "tea party" favorite Ron Johnson trailing the Democrat he unseated in 2010, former Sen. Russ Feingold by a slim 48-45 percent count.
Illinois: Democrat: A Norrington Petts poll shows Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth leading Republican Sen. Mark Kirk by 44 percent to 37 percent.
Pennsylvania: GOP?: Ornstein also hinted that Republicans might just win the Senate race that is increasingly considered the tightest of all 34, where Quinnipiac's latest poll shows Republican Sen. Pat Toomey edging Democrat Katie McGivney by 46 percent to 45 percent.
Nevada: GOP?: "Democrats have one open seat that is jeopardy," said Ornstein, referring to Nevada. According to a recent KTNV-TV Action News poll, GOP Rep. Joe Heck leads Democrat and former State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto by 42 percent to 41 percent.
"Predicting the look of the Senate involves predicting several close races," said syndicated columnist and veteran election analyst Michael Barone, another AEI panelist, "Right now, it looks better for Republicans than a month ago, but far from guaranteed."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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