Usually the picture becomes clearer as we get closer to Election Day. This year things are getting fuzzier as more races become extremely close.
Indiana – Last time I had this in the Likely category for a Democratic pickup. Now the experts are calling it a tossup and the polls are inconclusive. Both sides are hammering each other with negative ads. I think GOP challenger Todd Young is more effective. He is tying Evan Bayh to Obamacare and portraying him as someone who left the Senate to make millions using his influence. I now think that Young will win. If so, it will be a huge disappointment to the Democrats.
Missouri – A number of first term GOP senators are in a difficult fight for reelection. Roy Blunt is one of them. The sixty-six year old Blunt has long been a fixture in Missouri politics. Challenging him is thirty-five year old Jason Kander, Missouri’s Secretary of State. Kinder has a bright future but Missouri is a red state (Romney beat Obama in 2012 by nine points). I believe Blunt will hang on.
Nevada – Democrats are depending on former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to keep Harry Reid’s seat. She is challenged by Congressman Joe Heck. Once again the experts and polls are no help. Trump has hurt Heck’s chances, particularly among Hispanics. That and the fact that the state has become more Democratic should put Masto over the top.
New Hampshire – This is another tough call. Freshman GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte is facing Governor Maggie Hassan. Ayotte has gone out of her way to denounce Trump, recently saying she wouldn’t want her daughter in the same room with him. Although voters have a favorable opinion of both women, I think they will choose not to throw Ayotte out of office.
North Carolina – Republican Richard Burr is seeking a third term. His challenger is Deborah Ross who previously served in the state legislature. The polls are inconclusive. North Carolina is a state in transition but is still a Republican state. I believe Burr will hang on.
Pennsylvania – Another freshman Republican, Pat Toomey, is seeking a second term. His challenger is Katie McGinty. She has served in a number of state and federal government positions but this is her first try for an elective office. Pennsylvania is a blue state and she is consistently leading in the polls. Looks like the Democrats will pick up another seat.
Wisconsin – This is a rematch of the 2010 election. Former Senator Russ Feingold is challenging incumbent Ron Johnson. The polling generally favors Feingold but is within the margin of error. I think he will win his seat back.
So there you have it. I project that the Republicans will lose seats in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. However, they would keep the Senate by a 51-49 margin.