And, in Nebraska, Democrat Bob Kerrey suddenly looks capable of mounting a come-from-behind win against Republican Deb FischerDeb FischerRemembering small business during the presidential election Overnight Healthcare: Health mergers in trouble? | Norovirus in Cleveland | GOP chairman rejects Trump Medicare pricing plan Reluctant lobbyists descend on Cleveland MORE, though he faces an uphill battle in the red-leaning state.
A recent independent poll, the first since September, showed him closing his gap substantially and lagging Fischer by just 3 points. The sudden opening in the race inspired an influx of outside spending, with Crossroads GPS launching a $420,000 ad buy to shore up their bet, while independent group VoteVets Action Fund spent $300,000 on ads attacking Fischer this past week.
Kerrey also rolled out the endorsement of former GOP Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE, a revered political figure in the state, as part of a last-minute push for support.
It remains a long-shot — Fischer formerly posted consistent double-digit leads on Kerrey, and Mitt Romney leads President Obama by a similar margin — but Kerrey's mounting an improbable challenge in the final days of the campaign, and The Hill has moved the race from Likely to Lean Republican.
These ratings and projections will be updated throughout the campaign cycle. The full Senate ratings are below. Ratings for the House are available on The Hill’s Ballot Box blog under the Race Rating category.
The Hill's 2012 Race Ratings: Senate
|Likely Democratic||Lean Democratic||Toss-up||Lean Republican||Likely Republican|
|HI: OPEN (Akaka)||CT: OPEN (Lieberman)||AZ: OPEN (Kyl)||NE: OPEN (Nelson)|
|MI: Stabenow (D)||FL: Nelson (D)||IN: OPEN (Lugar)|
|MN: Klobuchar (D)||MA: Brown (R)||MT: Tester (D)|
|NJ: Menendez (D)||ME: OPEN (Snowe)**||NV: Heller (R)|
|WV: Manchin (D)||MO: McCaskill (D)||ND: OPEN (Conrad)|
|NM: OPEN (Bingaman)||VA: OPEN (Webb)|
|OH: Brown (D)||WI: OPEN (Kohl)|
|PA: Casey (D)|
|*Bold indicates a seat projected to switch parties.|
|**Former Maine Gov. Angus KingAngus KingClinton VP pick could face liberal ire Independent Sen. Angus King endorses Clinton McCain: Inaction on encryption 'furthering the cause of child pornographers' MORE (I) is expected to caucus with Democrats if elected.|