Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, accompanied by Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, center, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Republican Conference chairman, talks about the startup problems of the Affordable Care Act as they meet with reporters following a Republican policy luncheon, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Races to watch in 2014

Updated

Politically, 2013 is all but over. The polls have closed. City council members, mayors, governors, and state assembly members have been elected, ballot initiatives voted on, and all that’s left are for the votes to be certified.  Now the focus turns to the 2014 midterm elections, where Republicans will seek control of the U.S. Senate and Democrats will work diligently to fight off an all-out assault on their slim majority. 

Both parties are facing constituents repulsed by the current political landscape. A recent NBC/WSJ poll shows 60% of voters are resolved in firing every member of Congress. The G.O.P.’s job will be to wrestle away six senate seats and gain a majority, while Democrats are pouring in their resources to protect their vulnerable incumbents and remain in control.

Here are five Senate re-elections to keep an eye on for 2014:

Mark Pryor (D-AR)

Moderate Democrat Mark Pryor is seen as the most vulnerable incumbent of the 2014 election cycle. The two-term senator faced very little opposition in 2008, but will come up against significant hurdles in the Republican leaning state of Arkansas next year. Opponents have identified a strong challenger in freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, who is already out with strong ads against the incumbent, making Pryor’s seat their top target in 2014.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell is the best known Republican facing both a primary challenge, in Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin, and a strong general election opponent, in Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Allison Lundergan Grimes. Due to his role in the government shutdown  McConnell is taking criticism from both sides. Yet, despite his low approval numbers, McConnell holds what may be the largest war chest in the upcoming election cycle. 

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

This senate race is seen as a true toss-up, with Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu running for her fourth-term in the Pelican State. Landrieu’s support for President Obama’s landmark health care bill has not helped raise her popularity in a state where Mitt Romney won with more with 57% in 2012. Her opponent has yet to be identified.

Mark Begich (D-AK)

Mark Begich has the inherent challenge of running for re-election in a state where President Obama is incredibly unpopular. The first-term, red state Democrat is looking to build a voting record that highlights his support for local Alaskan industries, while diverging from issues favored by national Democrats, like that of universal background checks and the Keystone XL Pipeline. The greatest boon to Begich’s chances is the brewing three-way primary fight among Republicans, which includes Tea Party candidate Joe Miller who defeated incumbent Lisa Murkowski in a 2010 Republican primary only to lose to her write-in candidacy months later.

Kay Hagan (D-NC)

Moderate Democratic Senator Kay Hagan narrowly won the swing state of North Carolina in 2008, by running on the same ticket as President Obama, who carried the state for the first time since 1972.  According to polling, Hagan leads a generic Republican 47/42 showing that a fairly decent opponent will make this race very competitive.

 

Races to watch in 2014

Updated