National Senate races to watch
Polling is difficult in this race because it is hard to estimate the effect that write-in status will have for incumbent Lisa Murkowski. However, it seems the race has now narrowed between Murkowski and Miller, and unless votes split between the two, it seems Alaska will be sending a tea party candidate to Washington. Sarah Palin, who originally supported Murkowski, has been publicly attacking her recently and has switched her endorsement to Miller.
Barbara Boxer (D) is facing the closest campaign of her career against Carly Fiorina (R) , the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Both candidates are attempting to gain votes by attracting moderates, while also playing to their political bases. Boxer tells Californians that Fiorina is too conservative for the long-time blue state and that Fiorina will immediately overturn Roe v. Wade. Fiorina is fighting back by telling voters that Boxer is an extremist liberal.
Michael Bennet (D), the appointed incumbent, has been recently focusing his campaign on Ken Buck’s stumbles along the political trail. Buck (R) recently reaffirmed comments that being gay is a choice, and he stood by the fact that he once refused to prosecute a rape case because he believed the woman consented. Buck’s controversial comments may have set him back as the race keeps narrowing.
The race began with a major political upset during the primaries when little-known Christine O'Donnell (R) beat Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP nomination. Castle was the favorite to claim the seat previously held by Vice President Joe Biden. This race is no longer expected to be close on Election Night because polls show Chris Coons (D) above 50 percent, but the race is still getting national attention for the unusual comments made by O’Donnell, including letting voters know that she is “not a witch.”
Alexi Giannoulias (D) was the expected favorite in the race for Obama’s old Senate seat, but Mark Kirk (R) continues to gain support from the northern suburbs of Chicago after representing them for a decade in Congress. But both Kirk and Giannoulias have received negative publicity—Kirk for exaggerating his military record and Giannoulias for heading a collapsed family bank. Polls show Kirk up by one or two points so there is still a chance for Giannoulias.
Rand Paul (R) has made a series of missteps during the campaign and is most recently in the spotlight for an alleged incident from his days in college, when he reportedly tied up a woman and told her to pray to ''Aqua Buddha.'' Jack Conway (D) had to lean leftward to win his primary, and he supported the Democrats’ health care bill, which could be dangerous in a traditionally red state. Polls have Rand leading for now, but it will still be a close call on Election Night.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s prominent position has not seemed to help him in the race, as former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle continues to lead in the polls. Reid has been in the political forum since he was elected lieutenant governor in 1974, and his approval ratings have been continuously dropping throughout the race, though he has always faced weak candidates and previously managed to get re-elected. Angle has been an easy target throughout the campaign for her flubs, like her recent comment at a Hispanic high school that many in the audience looked “a little more Asian” to her.
Pennsylvania had an interesting primary race when moderate Republican Arlen Specter left the party to avoid a challenge from Pat Toomey (R) . Specter ended up losing in the Democratic primary to Congressman Joe Sestak (D). Toomey has a slight lead in recent polls, and many are predicting he will win. Though Sestak may have won in a normal year, he is suffering because he supports the Obama administration's spending plans.
Patty Murray (D) first won an upset victory in 1992, known as the “Year of the Woman.” Though she has been re-elected relatively easily ever since, she has consistently faced opposition to her solidly liberal voting record. Dino Rossi (R), a two-time gubernatorial loser, has proved to be a strong opponent. Though Murray is leading, most analysts are still calling this race a toss-up.
The election for Robert Byrd’s old seat was not going to be held until November 2012, but the West Virginia legislature moved the election up to 2010. Democrats nominated Governor Joe Manchin (D), who has a high approval rating in his current position and is a social conservative. Republicans nominated businessman John Raese (R), who lost to Byrd in 2006. Raese has been telling voters to keep Manchin as the governor, but his strategy may not be working because Manchin is still up in the polls. This see-saw election will be down to the wire on Election Night.
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