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.