Republicans need to take 10 seats currently held by Democrats in order to win back control of the Senate. Three weeks out from the midterm elections, this season’s pivotal Senate races can be divided into four categories.
Three Democratic senate seats are all but certain to go Republican in November: Arkansas, Indiana and North Dakota.
There are six Senate seats that Democrats are trying desperately to hold on to. As of this week, all of them are trending Republican: Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
There are four Republican seats that have been competitive, but look likely to stay on the GOP side: Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Ohio.
Finally, there’s the Democratic firewall, the final four seats that the Party must keep if it wants to retain control of the Senate: California, Connecticut, Delaware and Washington.
Here is a look at each of the four races that comprise the Democratic firewall.
California: Republican Carly Fiorina has been unable to get within striking distance of Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, but national Republicans still hope she can close on the incumbent. Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, was trailing Boxer by only a point or two in late August and early September. But since then, Boxer has padded her lead, though it is still a surmountable five points in the Real Clear Politics poll average.
Fiorina has tried to stay focused on the economy, even as she has maintained strong conservative stands on social issues, which came as something of a surprise to observers who expected her to tack left as the election approached. Boxer’s attack ads hammering Fiorina on her tenure at HP have had an effect, however.
Fiorina will try to close the gap with a closing argument that Boxer is “an ineffective and hyper-partisan senator,” said Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund. The Republican campaign will tie Boxer to the state’s 12 percent unemployment rate as often as possible. “Over the next three weeks voters will be reminded of not only Boxer’s dismal record but also that changing Washington starts with a vote to change the people we send there,” Soderlund said.
Boxer spokesman Dan Newman said the Democrat will show voters “what a clear choice the election presents on the issue of jobs. It’s a choice between Barbara Boxer who is fighting to create jobs and fix the economy, and Carly Fiorina who rewarded herself a not-so-small fortune for laying off tens of thousands of Californians and sending jobs overseas.”
Connecticut: If nothing else, this race is causing Democrats to worry and spend money. Republican Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, has spent $30 million of her own fortune and her total investment could go as high as $50 million by Election Day. Democrat Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is low on cash, requiring visits from President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
Despite her TV carpet bombing, it’s unclear whether McMahon can break past the negative associations with some of the more lewd and crude YouTube clips from her WWE days. Surprisingly, McMahon said Sunday that WWE programming is better now than it used to be when she was in charge. “The programming content, as I’ve said, has changed from TV-14 to TV-PG. I much prefer it today,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Blumenthal’s lead is still comfortable, at about nine points. Nevertheless, McMahon’s financial fusillade is stretching Democrats financially and forcing them to spend money in a state they would prefer not to. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has bought $2 million in ad time to try to hold on to the seat being vacated by Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democrat.
NEXT: The state of the Senate races in Delaware and Washington