Six seats. That's what all the articles say. "The Republicans need to pick up six seats to win control of the Senate." That's NET six seats. The little detail that seems to get lost in the pile on to claim victory for the right wing.
The math is that currently, we hold 53 seats, plus two aligned, for 55, and they hold 45.
My number for the 114th? 52, maybe 53, plus two aligned. Now let me show you how.
First, the safe Democratic seats (10):
Delaware, Chris Coons
Hawaii (Speical Election), Brian Schatz
Illinois, Dick Durbin
Massachusetts, Ed Markey
Minnesota, Al Franken
New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen
New Jersey, Cory Booker
New Mexico, Tom Udall
Rhode Island, Jack Reed
Virginia, Mark Warner
Next, safe Republican seats (11):
Alabama, Jeff Sessions
Idaho, Jim Risch
Maine, Susan Collins
Nebraska, Benn Sasse
Oklahoma, Jim Inhoff
Oklahoma (Special Election), James Lankford
South Carolina, Lindsey Graham
South Carolina (Special Election), Tom Scott
Tennessee, Lamar Alexander
Texas, John Cornyn
Wyoming, Mike Enzi
After the jump, everything else.
Democratic seats "conventional wisdom" says are questionable, but I'm sure we hold:
Alaska, Mark Begich
The CW says that Alaska is a Republican state, but that's not as true as people think. It's one of the hardest states to poll, and face it, Lisa Murkowski won running as an independent against Joe Miller last cycle. Miller says that he'll support Dan Sullivan this time, and Sarah Palin is supporting Dan, and those things will help Begich win. Not by a lot, but by enough.
Arkansas, Mark Pryor
This is a close race, with Tom Cotton generally up about 3 points over Mark Pryor in polling. However, Tom Cotton voted this term, as a Congressman, for all the Republican winners, and he's a tea bag favourite, which means that he WILL make a Todd Akin-type error over the next few months. Wait and watch. Further, Mark Pryor's recent ad which highlights his vote for the ACA without mentioning the ACA, but instead focuses on his own battle with cancer is brilliant.
Colorado, Mark Udall
This race comes down to one word: "personhood". Cory Gardner supports the personhood bill that even failed on a Mississippi ballot, and is in favour of outlawing birth control pills and IUDs. The Democrats are having their problems in Colorado this year, and it might cost John Hickenlooper, but too many women (and the men who love them) are not willing to give up on birth control.
Iowa, Bruce Braley
Joni Ernst seems to be overcoming her endorsement from Spunky Palin, her UN conspiracy theories, and her commitment to impeaching President Obama, and is holding her own. Bruce Braley's problem is that he's not a great campaigner. The likelihood, though, is that Braley will get more comfortable on the trail, will prep well enough for a debate or two, and will win on the issues. Iowa is seriously purple, and have comfortably supported Tom Harkin for close to 30 years.
Louisiana, Mary Landieu
She'll pull it out. She always does.
Michigan, Gary Peters
Terri Lynn Land started out with the full faith and credit of the mainstream Republicans. They thought running a woman would help them with the "War on Women" until they realized they had recruited a candidate who is opposed to both equal pay and abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest, or to save the life of the mother. Not to mention the fact that she's about to have a whole heap of trouble related to her husband's income and assets.
North Carolina, Kay Hagan
Shout out to Matt, who, back in 2008, when I called the race for Hagan thought I was being overly optimistic. I wasn't then, and I'm not now. Thom Tillis is making the race closer, but he's tied to Pat McCrory and a reactionary state government. This race is about "who do you hate more? Raleigh or Washington?" It's not a contest in a state with arguably the worst vote suppression legislation on the books. Remember, when you tell people they cannot vote, they rally.
Oregon, Jeff Merkley
Monica Wehby is a fun candidate. And they haven't even played up the fact that she's a stalker yet. This is a safe race, I just wanted the opportunity to point out that in addition to Monica being a stalker, she just lost the chair of her campaign committee after his domestic violence conviction was publicized. Further, she's got financial disclosure problems and she's opposed to equal pay and all the rest.
And now, the three seats we lose....Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. Bad candidates, bad timing.
But, we pick up a few Republican seats:
Georgia, Michelle Nunn
I hear what you're thinking: Dave Perdue is the least right wing of the primary choices. He's amenable and related to Sonny Purdue. But what you don't hear a lot about is the voter registration efforts being undertaken in Georgia this summer. That's what's going to win out in the end.
Kentucky, Allison Lundegren Grimes
What can I say? Normally, Democrats win in state races in Louisville and Lexington. We used to win better in coal country, but that loss in recent statewide races has left the Senate a Republican bastion. But Grimes doesn't have the coal problems that other Democrats have had, she's feisty, from a political family and she already holds statewide office. In addition, Mitch McConnell is the face of obstructionism. He wants to take the popular K-nect health insurance program away, and he wants to shut down government again this fall. She will decimate him in the debates and win by a hair in November.
In addition, we're running stronger in a place you might not suspect:
Kansas, Chad Taylor
Senate elections don't happen in a vacuum, and no one in the state of Kansas is unaware of what the teabag party, in the form of Sam Brownback, did to the state's economy. Pat Roberts won the GOP primary with less than 50% of the vote, he's got residency problems, and Sam Brownback is going to lose because of the huge number of prominent Republicans who are advising people to vote against him.
For the political class, they'll split the races on their ballots, but the majority of the electorate is comprised of political non-combatants, who find it easier to vote straight tickets. And yes, I say that knowing that the entire state legislature is non-partisan. But under the radar of the national press, there's a battle going on over drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. Kansas is the only state that doesn't allow them, and there's a fight TO allow them. That will affect turnout, and could impact the Senate race indirectly. If I had to rate this seat, I'd say "lean Democratic" - and I think there's above a 50% chance we pick it up in the person of Chad Taylor.
Mississippi, Thad Cochoran
I am pretty sure this seat holds for the Republicans, but, if McDaniel can succeed in his quest to oust Thad off the ballot, we actually would pick up this state. We probably won't, but I just wanted to put this out there. So there you have it: we lose 3 and pick up 2, maybe 3.