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GOP’s Chances Of Midterm Sweep Slipping

Helen Tobin |
October 26, 2010 | 11:10 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Control of the Senate outlook (NY Times).
Control of the Senate outlook (NY Times).
Republicans are an overwhelming favorite to win control of the House of Representatives, but new polls suggest that their chances of winning control of the Senate have dwindled. Polling numbers from close races across the nation showed the GOP’s Senate forecast declining, according to the New York Times.

Their chances of a win are now 16 percent, down from 19 percent over the weekend. 

This modest decline is a result of polling in Colorado and West Virginia. In Colorado, Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Michael Bennet are currently tied at 47 percent each.  Buck’s chances of winning were as high as 79 percent on Sept. 30, but minor gaffs in October have caused his numbers to fall.  Colorado’s race is likely to be the closest in the nation, with Buck just a 0.4 percent favorite.  

In the West Virginia special election, Democrat Joe Manchin had a 6-point lead over Republican John Raese in a Public Policy Polling survey.  Manchin has campaigned hard to the right in October, refusing to endorse President Obama for a second term.  While this strategy may win Democrats the seat, Manchin could just serve as a pain in the neck for Democrats until the 2012 elections, when he will face re-election again.  

The Republicans could still win the Senate, but these numbers make the path more difficult. The path to victory will require Republicans to win two of three states-California, West Virginia, and Washington-where Democrats are currently favored. In California, the newest USC-Los Angeles Times poll shows Democrat incumbent Barbara Boxer with an 8-point lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. The Republicans must also hold seats in Colorado, Illinois, and Nevada to win the electoral math, a challenge that is difficult but possible. 

The strength of the Tea Party movement is not making the math any easier on the Republicans.  As the outside party, Republicans are expected to take seats during the midterm elections, but Tea Party candidates such as Rand Paul and Christine O’Donnell continue to make it tough on operatives. While Paul is leading Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky, O’Donnell has all but given away the race in Delaware with a series of gaffs.

Republicans were counting on the seat vacated by Vice President Joe Biden, but O’Donnell’s shocking primary victory left the establishment scratching their heads. A sketchy employment history, religious questions about witchcraft, and strong abstinence views have made O’Donnell the most mocked Republican since Sarah Palin and a Republican shot at victory has all but vanished.  

Amidst all the questions in the Senate, the GOP should still take over control of the House. With 109 seats in play, the GOP needs a net gain of 39 seats to take control.  Most political operatives believe the GOP will win, making current Minority Leader John Boehner the new Majority Leader. Toss-up seats range from 42 to 26 depending on the source, but Democrats are already preparing to suffer a big loss next week.  



To reach reporter Helen Tobin, click here. Follow her on Twitter @HelenTobin.

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