Political analysts have projected that Democrats’ election woes lie mainly in the House of Representatives, but a series of surveys by RealClearPolitics finds that the party’s Senate perils are real, too, and could wind up splitting the chamber evenly with Republicans.
Democrats currently control 59 seats in the upper chamber, a number that is unusually high by historical standards. RealClearPolitics, conducting polls on the Senate races as they hit the final stretch, forecasts 9 Republican pickups, no toss-ups, and no Democratic pickups, ultimately predicting that each party will have 50 seats in the 112th Congress.
Likely pickups are designated by a minimum 5-point lead by one candidate over another. According to these polls, Republicans are poised to unseat Democratic incumbents in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
RealClearPolitics finds the GOP candidate in each of those contests leading by 6 to 9 points.
In the event of a 50-50 tie, the vice president would cast the deciding vote on legislation, which means the Obama administration and Democratic Party would retain their advantage — although a drastically reduced one — if this scenario plays itself out.
For the purposes of the study, independent Sens. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Joe Lieberman (CT) are lumped in with Democrats, the party they caucus with.
While most polls confirm that Republican candidates are leading those races, RealClearPolitics’s diagnosis of contests in Nevada and Illinois, for example, are contradicted by other surveys.
A Mason-Dixon poll, conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal found Monday that Nevada’s race between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and conservative Sharron Angle (R) is deadlocked at 43 points each.
Similarly, over a dozen polls in the last several months — including two recent partisan polls — suggest that the Illinois race between Alexi Giannoulias (D) and Mark Kirk (R) is a toss-up, reports Mark Blumenthal at HuffPost Pollster.
As for the House, most surveys show that Democrats will probably lose control of the chamber as Republicans are projected to pick up at least the requisite 39 seats. But prospects of Republicans taking back both Houses, while not entirely out of the question, appear unlikely.