First Read provides a road map that shows a difficult path for Democrats to remain in power in the Senate and a rosier path for Republicans. The GOP just needs a net pickup of 3 seats to gain control in the US Senate and it seems that 8 of the top 10 Democrat Senate seats could flip to the GOP.
1. North Dakota (D): Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D) decision to retire has placed this seat in extreme jeopardy in the “red”state of ND.
2. Nebraska (D): Sen. Ben Nelson (D). Nebraska voters will not forget the ”Cornhusker Kickback” during the health-care debate.
3. Montana (D): Freshman Democrat Jon Tester won narrowly in 2006 in a year that saw the Senate flip from the GOP to the Democrats. However, the political environment has changed significantly since then.
4. Missouri (D): Sen. Claire McCaskill. She can pretend to be a moderate all she wants, the voters, especially independents are not buying.
5. Virginia (D): As Jim Webb (D) retires, we are presented with the hypothetical matchup between former Gov. Tim Kaine and ’06 Senate race loser George Allen.
6. New Mexico (D): Jeff Bingaman’s retirement puts this seat in play, but it could be a tough get for Republicans in a state that swung for Obama in 2008.
7. Nevada (R): Heller’s entrance gave Republicans a much better chance at holding this seat than if John Ensign stayed in the race.
8. Massachusetts (R) : Scott Brown is being targeted by Democrats; however, Brown remains the most popular politician in the state.
9. Florida (D): Can Bill Nelson hang on in the state that elected Rick Scott (R) governor and US Senator Marco Rubeo in 2010?
10. Michigan (D): Will the economy be the Democrats undoing? Will Obama’s campaigning in the state going to be enough to put Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) over the top even though he has shown a lack of coattails in the past? The GOP did surprising well in the 2010 elections in Michigan, including winning the Governor’s seat.
After Republicans picked up six seats in 2010, Democrats will be hard pressed to maintain a majority following the 2012 elections.