Race ratings: Ranks of Democratic toss-up seats grow

Senate:

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) — from "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." Murray has drawn a strong Republican challenger in Dino Rossi, and most general election polls have the race in a dead heat. 

Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) — from "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." Even though Republicans in the state have yet to emerge from their primary fight, this race has been in a dead heat since June. 

Connecticut Senate (OPEN) — from "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC" to "LEAN DEMOCRATIC." Despite still fighting off negative stories from her time as head of World Wrestling Entertainment, Republican Linda McMahon has been steadily gaining on state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal since the beginning of the summer. The latest Rasmussen poll gives Blumenthal just a 7-point lead, while the most recent Quinnipiac poll puts Blumenthal up 10 points. With McMahon poised to spend upwards of $50 million on the race, this contest appears to be inching toward toss-up territory. 

Sen. Carte Goodwin (W.Va.) — "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC." One addition to our Senate rankings is the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). Now that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) has declined to make a run for the seat in this fall's special election, Democrats are likely to retain it. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is the Democratic nominee.

Indiana Senate (OPEN) — from "TOSS-UP" to "LEAN REPUBLICAN." The race to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D) increasingly looks like a Republican pick-up. Dan Coats has led Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) by at least 15 points in every poll since June.


House:

Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) — from "TOSS-UP" to "LEAN DEMOCRATIC." Minnick has taken to Twitter to highlight the National Republican Congressional Committee’s reluctance to buy TV ad time in his once-targeted district. After party-favorite Vaughn Ward lost the primary to Raul Labrador, Republicans seem to have abandoned their ambition of unseating the conservative Democrat.

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) — from "LEAN DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." Judging from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's attention to Edwards’s race, this incumbent isn’t a shoe-in for reelection. Republican Bill Flores is expected to be well-funded, although his spotty voting record could get in the way. Given the heavily Republican nature of the district, this race is clearly in reach for Republicans. 


Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) — from "LEAN DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." Pomeroy liked his chances of keeping his House seat more than taking on Gov. John Hoeven (R) in the Senate race. But with the popular Republican at the top of the ticket this cycle, Pomeroy’s challenger, Rick Berg, is liking his odds. 


Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) — from "LEAN DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Spratt is one of the most vulnerable to charges of out-of-control government spending. He’s calling challenger Mick Mulvaney “another Mark Sanford,” but it remains to be seen if that’s an effective line of attack. 


Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) — from "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." The conservative Democratic shunned a White House endorsement in the primary because he likely knew it wouldn’t help him in his tough general election race against Republican Steve Southerland. Boyd is already out with a website and TV ad hitting Southerland for wanting to repeal the 17th Amendment — a sign he’s ready for and expecting a fight. 

Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) — "TOSS-UP." After winning a special election this spring, Djou is already fighting for his political life this November. Djou was helped by an intra-party Democratic rift earlier this year, but the party is united around Colleen Hanabusa (D) for the fall, which will mean a close fight in this Democratic district. 

Wisconsin House (OPEN) — "TOSS-UP." Another addition to our House rankings is the seat left open by the retiring Rep. David Obey. State Sen. Julie Lassa (D) and Sarah Palin-backed Republican Sean Duffy are in a tight race that's already attracting the attention of third-party groups.  

Michigan House (OPEN) — "TOSS-UP." Here's another Democrat-held open seat up for grabs this fall, being vacated by Rep. Bart Stupak. After a close Republican primary, state Rep. Gary McDowell (D) got a bit of a head start against Republican Dan Benishek. But given the environment in-state and GOP boasting internal numbers that have Benishek up big, this race is shaping up as another prime pick-up opportunity for Republicans. 

Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) — from "LEAN DEMOCRATIC" to "TOSS-UP." Republican challenger Adam Kinzinger recently picked up the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Some real spending on Kinzinger's behalf could help push this race his way. 

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) — from "LIKELY DEMOCRATIC" to "LEAN DEMOCRATIC." Longtime incumbent Skelton is downgraded slightly in our new rankings. The Democrat is facing the toughest challenge he has seen in years from Republican Vicky Hartzler, and the national party is trumpeting the race as a sign that an increasing number of Democratic-held seats are now in play this fall. 

Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) — "LEAN DEMOCRATIC." After easily winning a special election in May to fill the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha (D), Critz appears to be a solid bet to beat back a second challenge from Republican Tim Burns in November.

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