Senate Rankings: June 2012

Senate Rankings: June 2012

I'm following the lead of 538's Nate Silver in ranking the Senate races by likelihood of a party chance this November. Here are the top 25 (previous ranking in italics):

25. (23) RI- Whitehouse (D) : No real drama here, but it's much more fun to write about the 25 seats most likely to flip than the 25.

24. (24) WA- Cantwell (D) : Republicans have recruiting a very interesting candidate in freshman state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, but Cantwell is fairly secure in the Evergreen state. 

23. (29) NY-Gillibrand (D) : The recruitment of Rep. Bob Turner moves this spot into the top 25. He faces an enormous fundraising disadvantage (Gillibrand has almost 100:1 COH), but he's won a very difficult race before. 

22. (21) TX- OPEN (R): The only "safe" Republican seat in the top 25 lacks a credible Democrat, but this is an open seat and there is a very bloody Republican primary.

21. (19) WV- Manchin (D) : It's only dropped two spots in the last six months, but Republicans have little hope of winning here. Sen. Manchin appears to have distanced himself from the national Democratic party and will survive. Whether or not he supports Democratic filibusters in the 113th Congress is an open question.

20. (20) MN- Klobuchar (D) : Here is a race worth watching. Republican Pete Hegseth is an impressive, albeit underfunded, candidate who could build momentum quickly. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has struggled in much of the midwest and could drag down the rest of the ticket here.

19. (15) PA-Casey (D) : Despite an impressive showing the in 2010 midterms, the GOP's bench had been decimated in previous years. As a result, a fairly weak incumbent is drawing an unproven challenger in businessman Tom Smith. 

18. (25) AZ- OPEN (R) : Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona is proving to be a stronger candidate than I had originally anticipated. He's been a capable fundraiser who was able to clear the primary field, while the Republicans are engaged in an expensive primary.

17. (16) CT- OPEN (D) : Connecticut shouldn't be competitive, but will become so instantly if the GOP nominates former Rep. Chris Shays instead of former WWE CEO Linda McMahon.

16. (18) NJ- Menendez (D) : Poll after poll shows state Sen. Joe Kyrillos gaining on scandal tainted Sen. Bob Menendez.

15. (13) HI- OPEN (D): Former Gov. Linda Lingle remains a strong candidate trying to overcome Hawaii's very blue tint.

14. (12) MI- Stabenowe (D) : Sen. Debbie Stabenowe appears comfortable in her re-election bid as her challenger former Rep. Pete Hoekstra struggles to gain traction. Michigan should be relatively close this fall in the presidential race, so she shouldn't get complacent.

13. (17) IN- OPEN (R) : With Richard Lugar's defeat in the primary, Democrats are optimistic about their chances of offsetting other losses here. Initial polling remains close, but Republicans are poised to do well in both the presidential and gubernatorial races. This will be a difficult seat for them to actually win.

12. (9) OH- Brown (D) : We've seen Ohio tighten considerably in the last 7 months as State Treasurer Josh Mandel has consolidated his base, but Sherrod Brown has stepped up his efforts as well. This is the tipping point between a good night and a great night for Republicans. If they win here, the GOP will be flirting with double digit gains.

11. (11) FL- Nelson (D) : Incumbent Bill Nelson is vulnerable, it's just a matter of the GOP finding a candidate who is an acceptable alternative. Rep. Connie Mack IV has baggage, as does former Sen George LeMieux and former Rep. Dave Weldon has gotten a late start.

10. (10) NM- OPEN (D) : Former Rep. Heather Wilson gives the GOP hope in a state rapidly trending D. Once the D's sort out their primary we'll have a good idea about each party's chances.

9. (6) NV- Heller (R) : Rep. Shelley Berkley's ethics woes are a persistent worry for a candidate who was once touted as one of the Democrats best pick up opportunities. They could blow over, but for now her prospects have considerably dimmed.

8. (7) VA- OPEN (D) : Former Sen. George Allen has held up nicely in the polls, a sign his personal popularity has recovered from his disastrous 2006 campaign. Nonetheless, Tim Kaine is a formidable rival.

7. (3) MA- Brown (R) : Elizabeth Warren seems determined to implode before our eyes, as her gaffes/plagerism/misrepresentations of heritage are dragging this race down the list. Warren still has a pile of cash and the states Democratic tilt in her favor, but Scott Brown is a strong candidate.

6. (4) WI- OPEN (D) : Down two slots but just as likely to flip as six months ago.

5. (5) MT- Tester (D) : Rep. Denny Reyberg is a well-known and well-respected politician who is the favorite in this race.

4. (8) MO- McCaskill (D) : Claire McCaskill's unpopularity and Missouri's dark red tint more than compensate for a divided primary field. Provided Republicans offer a credible challenge

3. (1) ND- OPEN (D) : Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is receiving a lot of buzz from the DSCC, but Rep. Rick Berg remains the favorite to flip the seat.

2. (14) ME- OPEN (R) : Independent Angus King is the odds on favorite to win election to the Senate. Unlike Bernie Sanders, Lisa Murkowski or Joe Lieberman it's uncertain which party he'll caucus with. He is marketing himself as a maverick, meaning he'll probably break with the party he chooses often.

1. (2) NE- OPEN (D): I can't imagine a plausible scenario for Democrats where conditions would be more favorable. Republicans had a bloody primary where state Sen. Deb Fischer emerged victorious, and she is by far the weakest fundraiser of the bunch. She's facing off against the strongest candidate for team Blue, former Sen. Bob Kerrey. Nevertheless, Fischer appears savvy enough to win this in a route. This seat will flip, but not because the DSCC didn't do everything in there power to hold it.

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