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Smart Politics Projections: U.S. Senate

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Divided country could have equally divided U.S. Senate in 2011

Current partisan split
Democrats: 57
Republicans: 41
Independents: 2

On the ballot
Total Democratic seats: 19
Total Republican seats: 18

Incumbents
Democratic incumbents: 12
Open Democratic seats: 7
Republican incumbents: 11
Open Republican seats: 7

Unchallenged seats
No Democrat on the ballot: 1 (South Dakota)
No Republican on the ballot: 0

Analysis
With several races considered by many D.C. analysts still falling into the 'toss-up' category late in the election cycle, the balance of power in the U.S. Senate will undoubtedly be one of the most important story lines to watch Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning.

It is quite likely, with horserace polling in so many Senate matchups finding candidates within just a few points of each other, that a few of these candidates who are purportedly 'ahead' will end up defeated on Election Day.

Add to that the high drama taking place in Alaska between two Republicans - one off and one on the ballot - and U.S. Senate races may very well take center stage even as Republicans rack up many gubernatorial seats and dozens of U.S. House pick-ups.

Projections
Alabama. Richard Shelby (GOP hold)
Alaska. Joe Miller (GOP hold)
Arizona. John McCain (GOP hold)
Arkansas. John Boozman (GOP pick-up)
California. Barbara Boxer (Democratic hold)
Colorado. Ken Buck (GOP pick-up)
Connecticut. Richard Blumenthal (Democratic hold)
Delaware. Chris Coons (Democratic hold)
Florida. Marco Rubio (GOP hold)
Georgia. Johnny Isakson (GOP hold)
Hawaii. Daniel Inouye (Democratic hold)
Idaho. Mike Crapo (GOP hold)
Illinois. Mark Kirk (GOP pick-up)
Indiana. Dan Coats (GOP pick-up)
Iowa. Chuck Grassley (GOP hold)
Kansas. Jerry Moran (GOP hold)
Kentucky. Rand Paul (GOP hold)
Louisiana. David Vitter (GOP hold)
Maryland. Barbara Mikulski (Democratic hold)
Missouri. Roy Blunt (GOP hold)
Nevada. Sharron Angle (GOP pick-up)
New Hampshire. Kelly Ayotte (GOP hold)
New York. Chuck Schumer (Democratic hold)
New York (special). Kirsten Gillibrand (Democratic hold)
North Carolina. Richard Burr (GOP hold)
North Dakota. John Hoeven (GOP pick-up)
Ohio. Rob Portman (GOP hold)
Oklahoma. Tom Coburn (GOP hold)
Oregon. Ron Wyden (Democratic hold)
Pennsylvania. Pat Toomey (GOP pick-up)
South Carolina. Jim DeMint (GOP hold)
South Dakota. John Thune (GOP hold)
Utah. Mike Lee (GOP hold)
Vermont. Patrick Leahy (Democratic hold)
Washington. Dino Rossi (GOP pick-up)
West Virginia. Joe Manchin (Democratic hold)
Wisconsin. Ron Johnson (GOP pick-up)

Partisan shift: GOP +9
Partisan control: Tie (Democratic tie-breaker)

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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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