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Senate Democrats are swimming upstream

Amidst all of the speculation about whether Republicans will capture the Senate in this year’s election, this fact stands out: Democrats must defend seats in five of the 10 states where President Barack Obama is most unpopular. Here are the five states and Obama’s approval rating (measured by Gallup) in each:

West Virginia — 25.1 percent
South Dakota — 31.7 percent
Montana — 33.1 percent
Alaska — 33.5 percent
Arkansas — 34.9 percent

Republicans must pick up six Senate seats, not five. But Gallup offers more good news on this front. Here are additional states the Dems must defend where Obama falls short of 50 percent:

Louisiana — 40.0 percent
Iowa — 42.4 percent
Colorado — 42.5 percent
North Carolina — 43.0 percent
New Hampshire — 44.6 percent
Oregon — 45.4 percent
Virginia — 46.4 percent
Michigan — 47.8 percent
Minnesota — 48.2 percent

The Democrats hope to capture Republican-held seats in Kentucky and Georgia. If they do, Republicans would need to flip eight seats, rather than six. But Gallup’s findings offer them little encouragement:

Kentucky — 35.1
Georgia — 45.4 (is Obama really as popular in Georgia as in Oregon?)

Obama’s numbers could improve, of course. And low numbers for the president don’t invariably correspond with Republican Senate victories, as we saw last election in North Dakota and Montana. But it seems pretty clear that the Democrats will be swimming upstream in November.

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