Race ratings

Race ratings

Race Ratings: Senate, House shift toward the GOP

A handful of Senate races that were once considered toss-ups have shifted considerably in the direction of the GOP in recent weeks, while at least one other Senate contest has become a somewhat unexpected toss-up. 

In the latest update of our race ratings, three Senate races have shifted from "toss-up" to "lean Republican," and 15 House seats move further in the direction of the GOP.  

The one bit of good news for Democrats comes from Delaware, where a Senate seat that was once considered safely Republican now appears solidly in the Democratic column ahead of November. 

See the Ballot Box's complete race ratings here.


Pennsylvania Senate (OPEN): from "TOSS-UP" to "LEAN REPUBLICAN." Pennsylvania’s open seat now appears destined to fall into Republican hands. Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) has consistently led in recent polls. Some surveys show him ahead of Rep. Joe Sestak by as many as 9 points, and he’s even within the margin of error in the Democrat’s House district. Without a major momentum swing, the admiral could go down with the ship. 

Florida Senate (OPEN): from "TOSS-UP" to "LEAN REPUBLICAN." Republican Marco Rubio is expanding on his lead in recent Florida polls and took in a whopping $5 million in contributions in the third quarter. Democrat Kendrick Meek’s problem was highlighted this week when the Sierra Club co-endorsed him and Gov. Charlie Crist (I). With Meek and Crist splitting the left-leaning vote, this seat leans toward Rubio. 

Ohio Senate (OPEN): from "TOSS-UP" to "LEAN REPUBLICAN." In Ohio, Democrat Lee Fisher’s campaign has been hamstrung by staff shake-ups and weak fundraising. A campaign memo that was leaked recently showed nothing’s changed — Fisher was actually considering cutting staff to free up money for more TV ads. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R) is a formidable candidate, despite his ties to George W. Bush’s unpopular administration. Ohio and Florida aside, there is some good news for Democrats.

Delaware Senate (OPEN): from "LEAN DEMOCRATIC" to "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC." Republican Christine O’Donnell has yet to solidify her base, and with so little time left before Election Day, Democrat Chris Coons is likely to hold Vice President Joe Biden’s former seat. 

West Virginia Senate (OPEN): from "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) lead has completely evaporated in the special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D). The latest polling shows Republican businessman John Raese in the lead as he continues to hammer Manchin with TV ads tying him to President Obama. Former President Bill Clinton is heading to the state to campaign for Manchin next week, though, and the Democrat was handed an opening given a still unfolding controversy over the language in a casting call for a GOP campaign ad, which called for actors with a "hickey" look.  


On the House side, eight Democratic incumbents move from our "lean Democratic" category into "toss-up": Reps. Bobby Bright (Ala.-2), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.-3), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.-8), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.-24), Bill Foster (Ill.-14), John Adler (N.J.-3), John Boccieri (Ohio-16) and Patrick Murphy (Pa.-8).

In all of these districts, Republicans have touted internal polls that show the incumbents in trouble, and public polling data has confirmed these members are very much on the ropes ahead of November. 

In Ohio's 16th District, new numbers from The Hill midterm poll show Boccieri trailing his Republican challenger Jim Renacci 42 percent to 39 percent.

In New Jersey, a Monmouth University/Gannett poll from the end of September showed Republican challenger and former NFL football player Jon Runyan within 3 points of Adler, whose reelection campaign was thrown into turmoil Friday after a report that his campaign helped a manufactured Tea Party candidate get on November's ballot to siphon away votes from Runyan. 

Our "lean Republican" category on the House side has grown by another five races. Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.-1), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.-3), Debbie Halvorson (Ill.-11), Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio-15) and Glenn Nye (Va.-2) have all shifted to "lean Republican" given public polling data that has shown their reelection contests increasingly imperiled. 

In the latest round of numbers from The Hill midterm poll, all five members trail their Republican challengers and show weaknesses with independents. In Illinois, Halvorson is down 18 points to Republican Adam Kinzinger, and in Pennsylvania, Dahlkemper trails by 13 points.   


Race ratings: Murkowski write-in shifts landscape in Alaska

Between the surprise primary win for Tea Party-backed Joe Miller and the decision of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to launch a write-in bid, there's a new level of uncertainty in Alaska's Senate race.

What was once a safe seat for the GOP has undoubtedly received a new jolt of competitiveness ahead of the fall. As a result, we're moving the race out of the "safe Republican" category and shifting it to "lean Republican."

The fear among Republicans is that Murkowski's write-in bid could split the Republican vote between her and Miller and create a possible path to victory for Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D). Murkowski is working to appeal to centrists--labeling Miller "extremist" and McAdams a lightweight with an inability to bring home the bacon for the state.

The national party remains confident in Miller, however, and a GOP source points to internal polling that indicates Murkowski's write-in bid takes an equal amount of support from Democrat Scott McAdams as it does Miller. 

The greatest complication for prognosticators is how to poll what has become a three-way race. Alaska-based pollster Marc Hellenthal says Murkowski's write-in bid means there will likely be a large drop-off between those who express their support for the incumbent in polls and the actual level of support her bid garners on Election Day, but determining just how large that drop-off might be is nothing more than guesswork.

On Friday, Murkowski declared that Alaksa "cannot accept the extremist views of Joe Miller," and warned Miller and the Tea Party Express that "the gloves are off."

See the Ballot Box's complete race ratings here.


Race ratings: Delaware likely to remain in the Dem column

Vice President Joe Biden's former Senate seat is more likely to stay in Democratic hands after the victory of Christine O'Donnell in the Republican primary Tuesday.

The Ballot Box has shifted the Delaware Senate race from "leans Republican" to "leans Democratic."

Republicans had been hopeful of capturing the seat with centrist Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) as the party's nominee. O'Donnell's bid is far more problematic for the GOP.

She is a perennial candidate who has made several unsuccessful runs for office. O'Donnell has been a frequent guest on television and radio shows to advocate for abstinence and other social issues, which won't win centrists or Democrats in Delaware. In 2008, she said then-Sen. Barack Obama was "anti-American."

A Public Policy Polling survey out Wednesday shows Democrat Chris Coons enters the general election race with a 50-34 lead over O'Donnell. Had Castle won Tuesday night, he would have a 45-35 lead over Coons, according to the Democratic firm's Sept. 11-12 poll of 958 likely Delaware voters.

O'Donnell has the support of Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and the national party appears willing to support her.

"I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support," Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement  Wednesday. "This support includes a check for $42,000 — the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees — which the NRSC will send to her campaign today."

She certainly needs the money — O'Donnell had only $20,000 banked at the end of August. Coons has almost $1 million.

See the Ballot Box's complete race ratings here.


Race ratings: Ranks of Democratic toss-up seats grow

The midterm election forecast is growing more dire for Democrats as the summer wears on, and that's reflected in The Ballot Box's race ratings for the 2010 elections.

The latest update shows growth in the ranks of the toss-up category on both the House and Senate side.  

Democratic incumbents continue to struggle and general election polling across the country has Republicans running strong against several Senate incumbents. In all, eight Democratic-held Senate seats are now considered toss-ups, while the ranks of Democratic-held House seats in the toss-up category swells to 29.  

One bit of good news for the ruling party in these new rankings — at least one Democratic-held seat has become less competitive ahead of November, shifting from our "toss-up" category to "lean Democratic."

Check out the chart; some of the updates are after the jump:


Race ratings: California and Florida now toss-ups, Connecticut safer

We’ve got some big movement in our Senate rankings this week, in addition to some House upkeep.

The movement is in the Senate races in California, Connecticut and Florida. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) seat and the open seat in Florida are being upgraded to “toss-ups,” while the open seat of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is being downgraded to from “lean Democratic” to “likely Democratic.”

You can check out the new ratings here.


Race ratings: Delahunt seat now 'lean Democratic'

Following Rep. Bill Delahunt's (D-Mass.) announcement that he will retire, we are upgrading his seat from "worth watching" to "lean Democratic."

The district is the most accessible in Massachusetts for Republicans, having gone a relatively low 55 percent for President Obama in 2008. It was also the best district in the state for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), going for him by 20 points. At the same time, this is still Massachusetts in a general election. We'll wait to see how the field shakes out. But either way, the GOP has a solid pickup opportunity here.


Race ratings: Massa seat to toss-up; Bright, Teague downgraded

In this update to The Ballot Box's race ratings, we upgrade retiring Rep. Erica Massa’s (D-N.Y.) seat from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up,” while downgrading both Reps. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) and Harry Teague (D-N.M.) to “lean Democratic” and “toss-up,” respectively.

We also add Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) to the "worth watching" category, while moving Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) from "likely Democratic to "lean Democratic."

See below to check out why we made the changes and see the new charts.