It's October 1st and Andrea Mitchell Reports is starting the month with a new segment that will take viewers on 'the trail' across the country to get an insider's look into the high-profile midterm races and where you could see some surprises on Election Night.
And after the show, be sure to visit andrea.msnbc.com for more information about the races and issues we're covering on The Trail.
SENATE UP FOR GRABS?: "The battle for control of the Senate is the big story," NBC News' political editor Mark Murray said on today's installment of The Trail. "A lot of it has to do with the map: many of these contests are taking place in red states." But don't discount Democrats just yet: "They're still keeping it competitive, even in states where Republicans would've liked to have blown them out, like Arkansas, Louisiana. Polls show those contests are still very close." (More: NBC First Read)
'WE'RE THE NUMBER ONE TARGET': "The race in Wisconsin in 2014 is the latest evidence that the state remains as polarized as ever," wrote MSNBC political analyst Kasie Hunt this morning. "Since taking office in early 2011, Walker has rammed through a succession of conservative policies that (most egregiously, Democrats believe) included eliminating collective bargaining for public sector employees. Those efforts led to a recall election against Walker in 2012 which he won handily, but which left the state even more angry and divided." (More: msnbc.com)
BIG MONEY: In Iowa, a new Des Moines Register poll shows GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst leading her Democratic opponent Bruce Braley by 6 points. "There's a lot of bad news in that poll for Braley," NBC News' digital politics editor Carrie Dann noted on today's show. "He's not even winning his home district right now, but it's still pretty early in that contest." Over $14 million have been spent in this particular race so far, so there's still a long way to go. (More: Des Moines Register)
COLORADO SURPRISE?: Is Colorado's Democratic governor in trouble? Gov. John Hickenlooper has angered some in his party over gun controls, and he's also gotten in some hot water over the death penalty. Kasie Hunt said the Democrats in Colorado she's spoken to are confident Hickenlooper will win re-election because of the way the state is made up, but "it's an unexpectedly close race." And Mark Murray added that what happens in Colorado will make a difference when 2016 rolls around: "Republicans have to show they have life in Colorado. If they can't win in this environment this year that does spell some very difficult problems for them in the next presidential election in that state." (More: Washington Post)