The Washington Post reports that Republican fortunes have improved in the battle for the Senate, “encouraging Republican hopes that they may yet snag the chamber which very recently seemed beyond their reach.” The Post adds, however, that to accomplish this, Republicans will need to win nearly all of the close races.
The Post attributes the improved outlook for Republicans to the surge of Mitt Romney. That’s a reasonable conclusion. Let’s take it one step further and hypothesize that the presidential race will have a major influence on Senate races in particular states.
In this scenario, under which voters worry less about individual Senate candidates and more about the national picture, Republicans would likely lose in liberal Connecticut and Massachusetts, but win in conservative Montana, and North Dakota. Barring another Romney surge, the Democrats would likely hold their Pennsylvania seat, but the Republican would squeak by in Arizona.
Romney seems to be coming on in Virginia, which could tip the extremely tight Senate race there to Republican George Allen. Romney may be coming on in Florida too, but Republican Connie Mack continues to trail in that race, and may not be able to make up the ground.
In Nevada, Obama still appears to be slightly ahead, but so does Republican Dean Heller in the Senate race. Let’s suppose that Heller wins.
This leaves Ohio and Wisconsin, where neither presidential candidate seems to have an edge, and Missouri and Indiana, where the Republican candidates have shot themselves in the foot over abortion.
For purposes of this exercise, let’s split both sets of races. For example, lets give Tommy Thompson (Wisconsin) and Richard Mourdock (Indiana) the nod, but call Ohio and Missouri for the Dems.
Assuming that the other races go as expected, let’s see where this scenario leave things (hoping, as always, that I get the math right). The Republicans now hold 47 seats. They figure to lose Olympia Snowe’s seat in Maine but pick up Ben Nelson’s in Nebraska.
In the above scenario, they lose Scott Brown’s seat in Massachusetts to Elizabeth Warren (a painful sentence to write, even hypothetically). This drops the count to 46.
But Republicans pick up seats in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, and Virginia. This brings the count to 50 seats, leaving the Republicans in control if Romney is elected and one seat short if Obama is reelected.
This is all highly speculative, of course, and no one should take any of these individuals predictions very seriously. However, I do believe that 50 seats is a reasonable “over-under” number for the Republicans right now. However, until we see how Mourdock’s rape/abortion comment affects the Indiana race, I’d set the over-under at 49.5.