Democrats are holding steady in contested Senate races where outcomes may weigh heavily on the candidates themselves and their campaigns, with less help from the chosen favorite on the top of the ballot.
Stu Rothenberg, editor of The Rothenberg Political Report, outlined the seats in play for Senate control, saying the path for Republicans is increasingly difficult in how they would have to pull an "inside straight" of conquering Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia and Montana to really have a chance.
"If you asked me who would be more likely than not to win the Senate, today, I'd have to say the Democrats," Rothenberg told The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd.
One of the most prominent battlegrounds for the Senate is being played out in GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's state of Massachusetts. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and sitting Sen. Scott Brown have been in a dead heat in the polls with a race that has garnered a great deal of national media attention—not to mention bundles cash from outside spending groups.
The race could now be reaching a turning point with four polls this week showing Warren eking out a lead. But Rothenberg cautioned the bounce back could be little more than short term movement, and not telling for the outcome of the election.
Democrats also appear to see a chance in more traditionally red states like Indiana, where Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock unseated veteran Republican Richard Lugar earlier this year in the Republican primary. Incumbent upsets like Lugar are tying up paths for Republicans to reclaim control of the Senate, but with many states with candidates neck-and-neck in polls, the predicted outcome is still a tossup.
Republican candidate Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, appears to be making a comeback in her Connecticut race for U.S. Senate since her loss in 2010 when the wave sweeping in Republicans to Capitol Hill failed to take McMahon along with it. That year, she lost by 12 points to Richard Blumenthal, despite forking over $50 million of her own money. She lost that race by 20 points with women.
In the latest Qunnipiac poll, McMahon is in a tight race and ahead of her opponent by just three points. She is reshaping her image of business experience built on violence and entertainment, to warmer side to appeal to women. McMahon is now in a tossup with her competitor, Rep. Chris Murphy, and according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, she is trailing just 4 points with women.
"A year ago I would have said that Republicans were more likely than not to win the Senate. I think now that is no longer the case," Rothenberg said. "We have it as a jump ball."