Goodbye Harry Reid. With November 2 almost here, signs are increasingly strong that Republicans will win at least the ten Senate seats they need to increase their present 41-seat minority to a majority of at least 51 and elect the Senate leader for the first time since 2006.
Because of special elections to fill out terms in Delaware, New York and West Virginia, there are an unusually high 37 Senate seats to be decided on by voters—18 held by Republicans, 19 by Democrats.
The ten Republican senators seeking re-election should all win handily: Shelby (Ala.), McCain (Ariz.), Isakson (Ga.), Crapo (Idaho), Grassley (Iowa), Vitter (La.), Burr (N.C.), Coburn (Okla.), DeMint (S.C.) and Thune (S.D.).
Republicans should also hold onto the five seats being relinquished by these GOP senators: LeMieux (Fla.), Brownback (Kan.), Bunning (Ky.), Bond (Mo.), Gregg (N.H.) and Voinovich (Ohio).
In two other states, Republican senators were denied renomination. Attorney Joe Miller should win the three-way race in Alaska (in which defeated GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski is waging a write-in candidacy) and Utah, where lawyer Mike Lee is a cinch to succeed the senator he defeated at the state GOP convention, Robert Bennett.
Of the 12 Democratic senators who are running, six should win: Inouye (Hawaii), Mikulski (Md.), Schumer (N.Y.), Gillibrand (N.Y.), Wyden (Ore.) and Leahy (Vt).
In four states, however, Democratic senators are likely to be defeated:
Arkansas: The most likely seat to go from Republican to Democrat, with Rep. John Boozman leading Sen. Blanche Lincoln by 10-to-20 percentage points in polls.
Colorado: The Rasmussen Poll gives Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck a 50% to 45% edge over appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Nevada: With some polls showing this race a tie and others giving Republican former state legislator Sharron Angle a slight edge, the 14% unemployment and high number of foreclosures point to Angle’s unseating Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
Wisconsin: A CNN/Time poll shows GOP businessman Ron Johnson maintaining his 52%-to-44% lead (over Sen. Russ Feingold.
The defeat of these four senators would increase Republican strength in the Senate from 41 to 45.
Republicans should make net gains in five other states where Democratic senators are stepping down:
Connecticut: Republican candidate Linda McMahon, a World Wrestling Entertainment magnate, has used $25 million of her own wealth and strong debate performances to fight Democratic State Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal to a standstill for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd.
Illinois: Despite some bad publicity about misstating his military record, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk leads State Treasurer and Obama friend Alex Giannoulias and has a wave of resentment against Democratic corruption in the statehouse on his side.
Indiana: Former GOP Sen. Dan Coats has a big lead (51% to 33% in a WISH-TV poll) over Rep. Brad Ellsworth for the seat of Ellsworth’s fellow Democrat, retiring Sen. Evan Bayh.
North Dakota: An easy GOP pickup, as GOP Gov. John Hoeven holds a lead of 30-plus points over Democrat Tracy Potter in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan.
West Virginia: Having appointed fellow Democrat Carte Goodwin to succeed late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd for the rest of this year, Gov. James Manchin, now running for the full term, finds himself trailing Republican businessman John Raese in the Rasmussen Poll 49% to 46%.
These five GOP pickups would leave the Senate with 50 seats held by each major party.
In the only state where a Democratic senator lost renomination—Pennsylvania, where Sen. Arlen Specter lost the May primary to Rep. Joe Sestak—Republican Pat Toomey continues to hold a comfortable lead over Sestak. A Toomey victory would give Republicans the 51 seats needed for a majority in the Senate.
Other GOP Possibilities
This list of Republican gains does not include California (where Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is battling businesswoman Carly Fiorina), Delaware (the nationally watched contest between conservative Republican Christine O’Donnell and liberal Democrat Chris Coons) and Washington State (where Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is in a tight race with former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi). A Republican victory in any of these contests for seats currently in Democratic hands would increase GOP ranks in the next Senate even more.
For now, it seems a good bet to say the next Senate will have 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and two Independents who vote with the Democrats.