I would like to look at the horse race for the U.S. Senate. There are 17 seats which are potentially in play this coming elections (that is, a person from the party out of power could win the election.)
I believe there are 11 possible pickups for the Republicans. There are 6 potential pickups for the Democrats. You will find each state listed below in an order I think reflects their likelihood of changing parties.
I have little doubt of these:
North Dakota (Byran Dorgan would have faced a tough re-election, without him running the dems don't have a prayer.)
Indiana (The Bayh name was a household one in Indiana-made it easy for Evan to win a couple of terms. Without him on the ticket, even conservadem Ellsworth won't hold the seat for the party.)
Arkansas-research tells me that the Republicans have held a Senate seat only one term in the last century in this state. Nevertheless, Lincolne trails her Republican challenger by 25 points in the polls-I don't think she holds on.
Republicans should pickup-
Delaware-Mike Castle has been the long-time at large representative of the state. He is a moderate Republican and acceptable to a state-wide electorate. I'm tempted to move this to the above category. Two problems to that-1.) It's Joe Biden's old seat. 2.) Delaware has voted heavily democratic in presidential elections.
Colorado-the state has trended democratic, and voted for Obama in '08. But an appointed senator fills Interior Secretary Ken Salaazar's seat-not an easy sell in a swing state. Polling looks decent for team Red-I say a pickup.
Nevada-Harry Reid was tasked with the unfortunate job of passing healthcare. It was not overly popular in his state, but if he didn't do it, he looked incapable of passing Obama's agenda. His approval is stuck in the low 40's and has been for sometime. He got a break with a Tea Party candidate who apparently at one time favored prohibition winning the republican nomination. Even still, Rasmussen showed her leading Reid by 11 points this morning (significant even for a pollster who has had a Republican house effect this cycle.)
Republicans pickups that likely won't be-
Washington-Dino Rossi has lost two statewide races. That says something. Patty Murray doesn't exactly have a distinguished career-but has done nothing deserving ouster. Rossi is talented and I think will make it close-could even win-but I don't think so.
California-Fiorina was not the best choice to face Barbara Boxer. She'll make it close and her money may matter. But she had a hot mic moment this morning and her views on immigration will not maker her a darling to anyone in the southern part of the state. Close, but no cigar.
Pennsylvania-perhaps the most interesting race of the cycle. Sestak is too liberal for the state at large, and Toomey is too conservative. The fact is, while he may be a SOB who cares about nothing but his job, Specter was a decent ideological fit for the state. It's close in the polls, but I think Sestak, with his Philadelphia roots, will prevail.
Illinois-This is a hard state for R's to win statewide. Mark Kirk, a moderate republican, was a good choice to run. But he has recently come under fire for lying about his Viet Nam record. This more or less cancels out his democratic opponent's scandal-family bank went under. The dems obviously have serious scandal on their hands with Rod Blago's trial in the news...but I think the dems hold this seat.
Wisconsin-The republicans failed to get Tommy Thompson to run against Feingold. Feingold is a rather liberal member of the senate, considering he comes from a fairly moderate state. He's beatable. But the R's didn't get a great recruit. Nevertheless, polling shows this one being winnable for the republicans. Still, I would chalk this one up for team Blue.
Democractic possible pickups-
Ohio-This is a classic swing-state. Obama won it by 4 last election. If I remember correctly, Bush won it by 2 in 2004. Polling shows this open Republican seat leaning ever so slightly democratic. I think this is the dems best chance of a pickup. But I don't think it will happen.
Kentucky-Economic Libertarians are not a huge part of the Republican party in the evangelical conservative south. But that is what Rand Paul is. He can defeat his democractic opponent, and will start with a lead-but it won't be easy.
Democratic pickups that likely won't happen-
New Hampshire-This state has trended very blue of late. However, Kelly Ayotte seems to have Paul Hodes' number. She has dominated the polls-insofar as a swing state can be dominated.
Missouri-Very close race in the polls. However, of the states Obama looked to flip from the Bush 2004 category, the only one in which he was unsuccessful was MO. I think that's worth noting in a close race.
Florida-Who knows what Charlie Crist's move will do? I tend to think, that unless he manages to bring down Obama's endoresement, he will not beat Marco Rubio. Would the president back an R turned I? Not impossible, but recent moves by Crist seems to indicate that might be the goal for which he is angling. Polling for now remains very close. Can Kendrick Meek take advantage of Crist and Rubio splitting R's and conservative Indies? I just don't think so.
North Carolina-Richard Burr is an underperforming freshman senator. Can't get his approval out of the 40's. A couple of years ago, I would not have thought that a big deal. That was before Obama eeked out a win in NC. I don't really think this will be a pickup-but it's worth keeping an eye on.
So there you go...in January we will have a Senate divided 53-47 in favor of team Blue.