by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When Human Events last looked at the 35 states in which voters are choosing U.S. Senators this fall, we concluded that “Republicans are brimming with confidence about gaining at least the four seats they need” to turn the Senate’s present 53-to-47 seat Democratic edge into a GOP majority.
Nearly four months later, that confidence has clearly grown. Of those 35 Senate races, eighteen can be considered truly competitive. The seats of all seven retiring Democratic senators are in that category: Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Jim Webb (Va.), and Herb Kohl (Wis.). In addition, no less than seven Democratic incumbent senators are facing spirited challenges from Republican opponents.
Are Republican-held Senate seats in danger? Sure. Republican Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) are both under intense fire. While in Maine, the retirement of moderate GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe has created perhaps the most unusual Senate race of the year: former Gov. Angus King, an independent, is the favorite and all signs point to him siding with Democrats on Senate control. In Indiana, the primary defeat of 30-year Sen. Richard Lugar by conservative State Treasurer Richard Mourdock has created a freshly competitive race in November.