What should have been an easy GOP win a few months ago is turning out to be much closer than anticipated. Two seats in Missouri and Indiana should have been easy GOP pickups but both candidates have stepped on their tongues and (at least in Missouri) will probably cost the Republicans a seat. As in 2010 when the GOP should have picked up seats in Delaware and Nevada, they insisted on nominating candidates that were unacceptable to the general public. Here's how I see it working out today:
Seats the Dems will most likely pick up:
Maine: Almost certainly won by the Independent candidate in the race who will caucus with the Democrats
Massachusetts: Scott Brown has to pick up so many independents and a few Democrats in the state that it is almost impossible to win; even against an absolutely terrible candidate like Elizabeth Warren.
Indiana: Had the GOP decided to renominate Richard Lugar this wouldn't even be a discussion but since Richard Mourdock made his unfortunate comments about rape he may end up losing a seat he should have won. He did win easily statewide in 2010 as the Treasurer of Indiana so he is a proven vote getter but it remains to be seen if he can ride the Republican wave that is powered by Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket.
Arizona: Jeff Flake could lose this seat but I give him about an 80% chance of beating his Democratic challenger.
Nevada: It looks like Dean Heller will retain his seat. This election looks to be over.
Seats the GOP should pick up:
Nebraska: This is much closer now than two months ago. Deb Fischer is only a few points ahead of Bob Kerrey, the former governor and senator. Mitt Romney should carry the state by more than 30 points and that should put Fisher over the top.
North Dakota: Rick Berg should beat the Democratic Attorney General in the battle for the open seat.
Wisconsin: I know this seat is close but Tommy Thompson should prevail over the ultra-liberal Tammy Baldwin.
Montana: Jon Tester should lose to Republican challenger Denny Rehberg. It is close but in the end Rehberg wins.
Ohio: A race going right down to the wire. Josh Mandel has been trailing the incumbent Democrat but with the Republican GOTV effort he'll prevail if Mitt Romney wins the state. If Romney wins Mandel probably does to, and vice versa.
Virginia: George Allen should be helped by a massive Mitt Romney GOTV effort. I suspect Romney will win the state by 4-5 points and that might be enough to pull Allen over the finish line to replace Jim Webb.
Pennsylvania: Republican Tom Smith is tied with incumbent Bob Casey. I think this may be the biggest surprise on election night. My gut tells me Smith will win this race.
Connecticut: Chris Murphy should beat Linda McMahon in this heavily Democratic state.
Florida: Bill Nelson should be able to prevail against a terrible GOP candidate in what should be a Republican win against a very liberal Democrat.
Missouri: See the first paragraph.
Hawaii: If Mitt Romney sweeps Florida, Ohio and Virginia early enough in the evening enough dejected Democrats may stay home. That's her only chance of winning.
Probably not a contest:
Michigan, New Mexico and Minnesota. The Democrats should retain these three seats.
Simply put, there's simply too many variables so we won't know until probably Wednesday how the Senate will look. If the GOP runs the table they max out at 55 seats but if they don't do well on Tuesday they'll be somewhere (probably in the high 40s). It is simply too hard to tell.