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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top 10 most likely GOP Senate pick-ups

Since the GOP is likely to lose Maine (Olympia Snowe’s seat) and have competitive races to defend seats in Massachusetts (Scott Brown) and Nevada (Dean Heller), they better hope to pickup five or six Democratic seats. Here are 10 seats currently held by the opposition that Republicans can win.

1. Nebraska (Open)

With the retirement of Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in a solid red state, Nebraska is ripe for a Republican pick-up. The GOP nominated a relatively fresh face in Deb Fischer, a rancher and state senator since 2004, while Democrats reached back to the far past and are recycling former Nebraska governor and senator Bob Kerrey. A Rasmussen poll has Fischer up by 18 points over Kerrey, whose previous service to the state is mostly remembered for his romance with actress Debra Winger in the 1980s.

2. Wisconsin (Open)

Wisconsin broke hard for the Republicans in 2010, with the defeat of incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold by Ron Johnson and Scott Walker winning the governorship. Now with the drama of the Walker recall effort over, Republicans seemed poised to capitalize on a better political climate for conservatives in what was once a fairly reliable state for Democrats. Former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson should have no trouble dispatching Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November.

3. Missouri (McCaskill)

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill says she won’t be attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte—and with good cause, as she is in the fight of her political life. Republicans won’t pick her opponent until an August primary but currently three of the candidates running to take on McCaskill are leading her in the latest Rasmussen poll, by margins ranging from 8 to 12 percentage points. Look for State Treasurer Sarah Steelman to win the primary and defeat McCaskill in November.

4. Montana (Tester)

Since defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns in 2006, Rep. Jon Tester has consistently sided with President Obama. He voted for ObamaCare and the stimulus, is pro-choice, and favors global warming legislation—all in a state, which McCain won by 2.2 percentage points. Tester was never that popular in the first place with margin of victory over Burns only 3,562 votes, or 50.4 percent of the total, and now his opponent, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, has opened up a modest lead in early polling.

5. North Dakota (Open)

Early polls show a close race between Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, the former state attorney general, and Republican Rep. Rick Berg, to replace retiring five-term Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad. But the state is as red as any, giving John McCain a six-point victory in 2008 over Barack Obama and, in 2010, when North Dakota voted to replace a another long-time retiring Democrat (four-termer Sen. Byron Dorgan), Republican John Hoeven cruised to a 54-point blowout victory.

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