One of the intriguing questions in this race is if the Democrats can hold onto the Senate. At the outset of the campaign, this looked a long shot. Of the 33 seats up for election this time, 23 are held by Democrats. Many looked vulnerable. Republicans need only four pick ups to get a majority, or three if Romney were to win the Presidency, and a GOP vice-President would have the casting vote.
But it hasn’t played out that way – the Democrats might actually pick up seats. A few key races to watch:
Massachusetts. Democrats are desperate to win back Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat, won by Republican Scott Brown in 2010. Elisabeth Warren’s prodigious fundraising (roughly $38.5 million) looks set to deliver the totemic seat back to the Democrats.
Indiana. The Tea Party that ate the republicans. Six-term Senator Dick Lugar was dumped in the Republican primary by Tea Party insurgent Richard Mourdock. He made news recently by opposing abortion even in cases of rape. Polling is difficult in Indiana, but it looks close in a race where the Democrats shouldn’t have a hope. Serious soul-searching at Republican headquarters will follow a Mourdock loss.
Missouri. Another self-inflicted Republican wound. Having been repudiated by major Republican figures for his comments about “legitimate rape”, Todd Akin has been running virtually as an independent. You know you’re lonely when you’re happy to see Newt Gingrich, who has recently started campaigning with Akin. He may, however, pull through – there is a suspicion that the good people of Missouri don’t want to admit to pollsters that they intend to vote for Akin anyway.
Connecticut. What a race. The Republicans chose former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon, who has poured quite a lot of her significant fortune into the poll. This has raised a dilemma: if a voter goes to a polling booth in a John Cena t-shirt, should that be considered a form of campaigning for McMahon? Election officials think so, and will ask said voter to cover up. In a stroke, thousands of potential voters lost to McMahon. Democrat Congressman Chris Murphy has had his own issues, standing accused of failing to pay rent, mortgage and property taxes. He also missed 80% of the congressional hearings for committees to which he was assigned. Despite this, Murphy seems to be pulling clear.
Overall, the Senate numbers may not change much, but this in itself will be a huge victory for the Democrats.