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Political Insiders Poll

Rank the top five Senate races in order of the most likely to switch party control.

Democrats (92 votes)

Maine (Open, R): 66 (Index Score)
North Dakota (Open, D): 54 (Index Score)
Massachusetts (Incumbent R): 53 (Index Score)
Nebraska (Open, D): 38 (Index Score)
Nevada (Incumbent R): 24 (Index Score)


Other races: Missouri (22); Montana (11); Wisconsin (7); Virginia (6); Indiana (5); New Mexico (4); Hawaii (3); Ohio (2); Florida (2); Michigan (1) 

“The dual dynamic of the GOP [presidential] candidates stepping on themselves and Barack Obama, the campaigner, has changed the scenario.”

“Dem Senate prospects are on the rise. Things looked much more promising for R’s before the payroll-tax [cut] fight.”


“A funny thing happened on the way to a Republican Senate takeover: The economy improved; the Right Wing took over their presidential nominating contest; and a large, loud conservative radio talk-show
host went on a misogynist rampage that turned off whatever women might have supported conservative Republican candidates. Might not save North Dakota or Nebraska, but it makes it a lot harder for R’s to win Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, and Missouri.”

“Maine may be the difference-maker for continued Democratic control of the Senate.”

“In terms of Maine, I am counting Angus King as a switch. His candidacy makes it very tough for a Democrat to win the seat.”

“[Sen. Olympia] Snowe’s surprise announcement certainly was a game-changer for the Dems in Maine. [Massachusetts’s Sen.] Scott Brown’s not easy to beat, but Elizabeth Warren is running a good campaign.”


“GOP lock on a Senate majority has been picked in Maine and Nebraska. Anything can happen now.”

“Bob Kerrey’s entry [in Nebraska] means they need to spend, but we still lose it. Angus King screws us in Maine, but then caucuses with Dems.”

“Senators Snowe and Brown, please urge Rush Limbaugh to keep circulating those GOP talking points. Democrats and independents in the Northeast find them very helpful.”

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Rank the top five Senate races in order of the most likely to switch party control.

Republicans (92 votes) 

North Dakota (Open, D): 65 (Index Score)
Nebraska (Open, D): 56 (Index Score)
Maine (Open, R): 42 (Index Score)
Montana (Incumbent, D): 30 (Index Score)
Virginia (Open, D): 28 (Index Score)

Other races: Missouri (23); Wisconsin (12); Florida (12); Massachusetts (11); Hawaii (5); New Mexico (4); Ohio (4); Nevada (4); Michigan (2); Indiana (1) 

“A return to normalcy. Republicans rebound in the Midwest, Mountain West, and South. Popularity of Gov. Susana Martinez aids [Heather] Wilson in New Mexico.”

“I’ve defended Snowe’s apostasies in the past, but she really screwed the party on this one by not letting the party prepare. She’s earnedall the recriminations coming her way.”

“The president is an anchor in North Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana, and a help in Massachusetts. Ultimately, the GOP will hold their nose and vote for George Allen, who will win swing voters in Northern Virginia and Richmond. There is no way a recycled senator like Kerrey has a prayer in Nebraska.”

“Bob Kerrey’s return to Nebraska, to quote a famous novelist, will prove that ‘You can’t go home again,’ and he can’t save the Nebraska Senate seat. After an initial surge by Warren, Scott Brown is building a solid lead in money and poll numbers. Meanwhile, [Missouri’s] Claire McCaskill is acting like she is auditioning for a Cabinet post in a second Obama term.”

“Unless Jim DeMint screws us yet again in Nebraska, that is a pick-up. And, people will be surprised how well Heather Wilson and Josh Mandel run in New Mexico and Ohio.”

“New Mexico’s Senate contest is the sleeper race of the cycle. Heather Wilson is a proven vote-getter and fundraiser, and is relatively centrist compared to her likely opponent.”

“The tide rolled in during 2006 for [Montana’s] Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill, and the president can’t do much to save them in 2012.”

This article appears in the March 10, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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