The Republican Party has a good chance to grab some Democratic territory back in 2010, of only because the Democrats took so much Republican territory in 2006 and 2008. And it has some opportunities to narrow the partisan gap in the Senate. But the Democrats are not without some opportunities of their own.
Inside the Beltway newspaper Politico handicapped 10 races where it thinks the chance for a party flip are possible. Ironically, the seats given up by President Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden are among them.
Note that a lot can happen between now and November 2010, and some match-ups in these states are far from settled, even within party ranks. So make liberal use of your salt shaker as we walk you through Politico’s flippable top ten Senate seats for 2010.
* Delaware: This is the seat Joe Biden (D-DE) left to join the Obama administration. Mike Castle (R-DE), the state’s best-known and loved Republican, gives the party an excellent shot at the seat. Had that not happened, the state would not be on the list. Joe’s son Beau may carry the Democratic standard.
* Connecticut: Incumbent Chris Dodd (D-CT) is damaged by ties to the high finance community, and Republicans are tripping over one another to challenge him. Ad spending on the Republican side is already under way.
* Colorado: Michael Bennet (D-CO) was appointed, not elected in this purple state and must prove he can win statewide. He also faces a possible primary challenge. But there may be a primary challenge on the Republican side as well.
* Nevada: Harry Reid (D-NV) will have to answer to the folks back home for his high-profile actions as Senate Majority Leader – a task Tom Daschle (D-SD) failed to do back in 2004. But the Republicans failed to recruit their first choice opponents and Reid is sitting on a ton of defensive cash.
* Illinois: Roland Burris (D-IL) and Rod Blagojevich did not do their party any favors while keeping Obama’s former seat warm. The Republicans have Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) signed up to run for the open seat; the Democratic situation is unsettled.
* Pennsylvania: A tangled mess. It’s been voting for Democrats lately, but Arlen Specter (D-PA) only recently reverted to the party, and may be challenged by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). He switched parties because he seemed headed for trouble in a possible Republican face-off with Pat Toomey. If Toomey could chase Specter clear out of the party, it shows a certain amount of strength.
* Ohio: George Voinovich (R-OH) is retiring, and Democrats have done well in the state of late. The Democrats may pick one up here.
* Missouri: Kit Bond (R-MO) is exiting, and the Democrats have Robin Carnahan on the ticket – boasting one of the strongest political brands in the state. Former House Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) has the experience but Politico thinks he faces an uphill climb.
* Kentucky: The exit of Jim Bunning (R-KY) ironically makes the seat more difficult for Democrats to capture, but Politico thinks they still have a chance as Trey Grayson dukes it out with Ron Paul’s son Rand Paul for the Republican nod.
* New Hampshire: He’s said to be starting out slow, but Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) has an excellent chance of capturing the seat of retiring Judd Gregg (R-NH). It’s just getting harder and harder for Republicans to survive in New England.
RBR-TVBR observation: Senate races tend to bring all in-state media markets into the picture, and if they are competitive, they can attract boatloads of national money. So this ultimately a list of 10 states with excellent prospects for achieving battleground status.