Some Tight Senate Races -- Democrats Could Gain 60-Seat Majority

By Josiah Ryan | October 30, 2008 | 8:04pm EDT

Capitol hallway outside U.S. Senate floor. (AP Photo.)

( - If Democrats manage to capture 10 out of the 23 Senate Republican seats up for reelection on Tuesday, they could gain a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority. That would make it difficult for Republicans to complete simple tasks in the Senate, or to exercise privileges normally granted to the minority party by Senate rules.
Democrats in the Senate face several strategic advantages in this election with five Republican senators retiring, only 12 Democratic seats up for reelection (compared to 23 Republican seats), and the fact that the Democratic incumbents lead in the Rasmussen Reports polls.
Kentucky. While Democrats say they have not dedicated additional resources to defeating Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) just because he is the Senate Minority leader, his defeat could be considered a symbolic blow to Republicans and revenge for the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in 2004.
Following McConnell’s support of the $700 billion financial bailout, which was unpopular in Kentucky, State Commerce Secretary Bruce Lunsford (D) made gains in the polls but still lags behind McConnell.
McConnell has reminded voters of his clout and how he has wielded his influence as Senate minority leader to help the people of Kentucky. McConnell currently leads Lunsford by 7 percentage points.
Alaska. Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who has held his seat since 1968, was convicted of seven felonies related to corruption on Oct. 27. Stevens says he is innocent and is appealing the conviction.
In the meantime, challenger Mark Begich (D), the mayor of Anchorage, has pulled ahead of Stevens by 8 percentage points.
Oregon. Sen. Gordon Smith (R) has distanced himself from John McCain and enlisted Barack Obama’s name and image in TV commercials and campaign mailings. Obama, however, has endorsed Smith’s opponent, Speaker of the Oregon House Jeff Merkley. The race is currently tied with both candidates at 47 percent. 
North Carolina.
Targeted by a half-million dollar campaign to convince North Carolina voters that Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) is “in the pocket of big oil,” Dole now trails state Sen. Kay Hagan (D) by 6 percentage points.
Minnesota.  On Oct. 30, Sen. Norm Coleman (R) announced he was filing a lawsuit against Democratic opponent Al Franken’s campaign for “defamation of character.” Coleman leads Franken by 4 percentage points. 
Georgia. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) lost popularity after voting for the $700 billion bailout earlier this month, but he has a 2 percentage point lead over rival State Rep. Jim Martin (D).
New Hampshire. The challenger, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) has an 8-point lead over  Sen. John Sununu (R). Shaheen has argued that Sununu’s backing of Bush administration economic policies helped lead to the current economic problems.
Colorado. Rep. Mark Udall (D) leads former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) by 6 percentage points in his race to win the seat of retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R).
Mississippi. Rep. Roger Wicker (R), who was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Haley Barbour (R) in January after Sen. Trent Lott's (R) resignation, has an 11 percent lead over his opponent, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove(D).
Virginia. Gov. Mark Warner (D) has a 24-point lead over Jim Gilmore (R) in his quest to capture the seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Warner (R), no relation.
New Mexico.
Linking Rep. Steve Pearce (R) to the alleged “deregulatory” economic policies of John McCain and George Bush, Rep. Tom Udall (D) is 20 points ahead in the race for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pete Domenici (R). 
Maine. Sen. Susan Collins (R) leads  Rep. Tom Allen (D) by 11 percentage points.

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