Meanwhile, Democrats Are Leading in the Race for U.S. Senate Control

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 18 2012 11:44 AM

Meanwhile, Democrats Are Leading in the Race for U.S. Senate Control

Every once in a while I check with's remorseless map of swing state polls. For quite some time, the presidential numbers have showed Barack Obama in the lead. But only in the last week have the numbers on U.S. Senate races suggested that the Democrats -- who have more seats in play, and more open seats to defend -- are winning. Dark colors indicate that one party is winning; a light color line indicates that there's a lead, but it's close. Today's map has Democrats holding at least 52 seats when the election's over.

Screen shot 2012-09-18 at 12.12.40 PM

A couple of notes. First, the Tennessee numbers are crap -- Sen. Bob Corker will beat a kooky fringe candidate by a landslide. Second, the Indiana and Wisconsin numbers are from internal Democratic polling, and they're not likely doing as well as that. Nebraska, held by Democrats since 1989, looks lost; North Dakota, with one of the party's favorite recruits, remains a hell of a climb.

But look at everything Democrats have taken out of play. Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Washington, should theoretically be competitive states. They're not. In Ohio and Missouri, stumbling Republicans Josh Mandel and Todd Akin (who have very different problems, not worth getting into here) are struggling to close up the polls. New Mexico, Virginia, Montana, and Hawaii all have top Republican recruits, and only two of them are nailbiters. The only truly soft spot for Democrats is Connecticut, where Rep. Chris Murphy is acting, basically, as a generic Democrat against a Republican (Linda McMahon) who ran once before and has bottomless funds. But let's say they lose there and drop Wisconsin and Indiana. That gives them 50 seats (48 Democrats and independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King) in 2013. That miles better than they should be doing. And if I'm a Republican, I don't think I want my hopes of U.S. Senate control hinging on George Allen again.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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