Republicans are excited about the prospect of controlling the Senate majority after the 2014 elections. In order to seize control, Republicans need to pick up six seats. This would have a huge impact on Obama’s ability to set the agenda and influence your life.
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Democrats have the edge, but they must defend 20 seats, including seven seats in states that President Obama lost in 2012. Already, five Democratic incumbents have thrown in the towel, announcing plans to retire.
History is with the Republicans. During midterm elections, a president’s party often loses Senate seats. Here is a state-by-state roundup of Senate seats in play. We will update these races periodically.
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Democrats control this seat with freshman Senator Mark Begich, even though Obama lost Alaska in both 2008 and 2012. Begich only won this race by 1% of the vote because longtime Senator Ted Stevens was under the cloud of a Justice Department investigation.
Begich has worked hard, but anti-Obama sentiment is likely to be his undoing. Several strong candidates, including 2008 GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller, are considering the race.
Early prognosis: The Republicans pick up a seat (+1)
Barack Obama only received 36.88% of the vote in Arkansas in 2012. The President is very unpopular there, and he could bring down Democratic Senator Mark Pryor. Obamacare is also unpopular in Arkansas, and it will be used against Pryor (who voted for it.)
Republicans need to find a strong candidate to challenge Pryor. Last time Pryor ran, Republicans failed to field a candidate against him.
Rep. Tom Cotton, a rising conservative star, would be a formidable challenger to Pryor. Cotton is an Iraq War veteran and a favorite of Club for Growth and other conservative groups.
A poll released in mid-March showed Cotton leading Pryor, 43 percent to 35 percent. Cotton hasn’t decided what to do, but Republicans would be smart to urge him to run.
Early prognosis: Democrats hold Arkansas unless the GOP can produce a strong challenger (+0)
Senator Tom Harkin, a fixture in Iowa politics for decades, is finally retiring. This gives Republicans a shot to win.
Even though Obama carried the state in 2012, Iowa remains very competitive for Republicans. Rep. Steve King has already thrown his hat in the ring, and he would be a strong contender. But don’t count on Republicans to pull together. King is one of the candidates D.C. GOP operative Karl Rove has targeted. Rove may spend big money against King, damaging his chances in the fall.
Early prognosis: Republican infighting keeps this seat Democrat (+0)
The Pelican State has been trending Republican, but Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu was re-elected with 52% of the vote in 2008. And as a long-term officeholder, she has to be considered the likely winner.
All of the Republican Party Congressmen from Louisiana will be competing for the GOP nomination to challenge Landrieu. Unfortunately for the Republicans, all of the challengers trail her in fundraising.
It will not be easy getting the better of Landrieu, but it is not impossible either. Unfortunately, the popular GOP Governor Bobby Jindal took a pass on this race.
Early prognosis: The Democrats will hold Louisiana (+0)
Nobody thinks of Michigan as Republican; but with the insolvency of Detroit, the finances of the state have forced voters to turn to the GOP for answers. Obama carried Michigan in the presidential race, but the GOP did very well down ticket.
Longtime Democratic Senator Carl Levin has decided to retire, and it could provide Republicans with an opening. Three Republican Congressmen are looking at the race: Reps. Dave Camp, Mike Rogers, and Justin Amash, a Tea Party favorite. Scott Romney, brother of Mitt Romney, is also looking at the race.
Early prognosis: Bad finances and strong Republican candidates give the GOP another seat (+1)
Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan rode Obama’s coattails into office in 2008 and defeated incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole. But North Carolina swung hugely Republican in 2012.
Now, every poll has Hagan below 50%, which is definitely a good sign for Republicans. Optimism has launched a crowded field into the GOP primary.
Early prognosis: The GOP should easily win here (+1)
Winds of change led three-term incumbent Democrat Senator Tim Johnson to tuck tail and retire. Popular two-term Republican Gov. Mike Rounds has announced his intention to run.
Early prognosis: The Republicans will only lose this one if they really screw up (+1)
GOP chances in Virginia are slim unless Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has reached his term limit in the governor’s mansion, decides to run. But incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner is also popular, so the race won’t be easy.
On top of that, Virginia residents’ jobs are often dependent on federal spending. So it won’t be easy for any fiscally responsible Republican to win in Virginia. McDonnell probably gives the GOP its best shot.
Early prognosis: Chances are slim at this point (+0)
Democratic incumbent Senator Jay Rockefeller decided not to run for re-election. President Obama lost this state twice because of his stands against increasing coal-generated electricity, and he remains unpopular. The GOP has an excellent opportunity to win this WV Senate seat. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is running, and very early opinion polls give her a lead.
Early prognosis: This seat is likely Republican (+1)
The Final Count
The early analysis shows that the Republicans will likely pick up five seats. It would only take one GOP win in a closely contested race in Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, or Virginia to retire Harry Reid and change the face of Washington.
This article originally appeared at CapitoHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.
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