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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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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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