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.
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.
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.
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