Our colleagues take a close look today at Republicans' path to 51 in the Senate now that the Missouri Senate race is tilting in Democrats' favor.
(RELATED: NRSC Softens Stance on Akin)
Republicans thought they could count on Rep. Todd Akin to beat Sen. Claire McCaskill, but since his comments about rape, polling suggests the GOP is in trouble in the Show-Me State.
(RELATED: DeMint, Santorum Are Backing Akin Now)
Reid Wilson explains:
Republicans believe Akin's comments all but disqualify him from office, and several polls taken during the last month show McCaskill surging ahead.
But there are broader ramifications: Republicans need to win a net of four seats to take control of the Senate, and they counted Missouri as one of the states they would certainly win.
So how will the GOP get to 51 in the Senate?
Now, the GOP is investigating other paths to a majority, paths that meander through more Democratic-leaning states like Connecticut and Maine, and through more entrenched Democratic incumbents in Florida and Ohio.
Republicans have plenty of opportunities to get to the 51 seats they would need to control the Senate outright. Polling shows Sen. Ben Nelson's seat in Nebraska is almost certain to turn red, while Sen. Jon Tester is running slightly behind Rep. Denny Rehberg in a recent Mason-Dixon survey in Montana. But Republican candidates are running behind expectations in North Dakota, Wisconsin and Indiana, and vulnerable Republican incumbents in Massachusetts and Nevada give Democrats room to expand the playing field. Polls even show longer-shot Democratic hopes like Arizona narrowing as voters tune in.