Florida Rep. Connie Mack IV is not running the kind of campaign that would allow him to overtake incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), but the Republican lawmaker could be dragged into the Senate by Romney if the GOP presidential nominee carries the state strongly enough. Still, Mack is likely to lose to Nelson.
Finally, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel may have crawled back into the Senate race against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), but that is not the same thing as being a coin flip away from victory. Mandel almost certainly needs Romney to win the state to have any chance of defeating Brown, and at this point, the Senator has a big advantage in the race.
The bottom line, of course, is that none of the three is even money to win. One or all of them could succeed, but all of them are, at least at this point, underdogs in their races.
It’s at this point that conservative activists will be jumping out of their chairs to complain that I have left Pennsylvania businessman Tom Smith off the list of potential GOP winners.
Smith, who has an interesting life story that includes adopting four children and building a hugely successful coal business from scratch, spent millions of dollars to win the Republican Senate nomination and has become something of a threat to Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.
While I was impressed with Smith’s story, sincerity and commitment to the race when I interviewed him, I doubted that he could beat the incumbent.
But his money has helped him gain ground on the Senator, who didn’t appear to take the challenge all that seriously. Smith turned a race that didn’t deserve to be on anyone’s radar into an interesting, uphill effort.
Six recent public polls showed the Smith-Casey race within the margin of error, and one, from a Harrisburg-based Republican polling firm, showed Smith with a 2-point lead. Other polls, a bipartisan survey conducted for the Philadelphia Inquirer and two Democratic surveys, including one for Casey, showed the incumbent Senator with a low double-digit lead.
Unfortunately for Smith, two of the GOP polls also showed Romney leading Obama, which did not reflect the actual situation in Pennsylvania when those polls were conducted. That raised a whole series of questions about sampling and weighting for those surveys and, in my view, tended to undermine their findings on the Senate ballot.
Where is the race now? I’d guess that Casey is ahead by somewhere between his poll (13 points) and Smith’s (2 points). That would put it at 7 points or 8 points, which seems reasonable — and still a ways from the nail-biter that some Republicans like to think it is. (A Muhlenberg College poll released Monday showed the race at 8 points, substantially different from the 2-point race the college found in its previous survey.)
In any case, it is still hard to imagine Smith overtaking the incumbent, given that Casey is finally matching Smith on TV after being significantly outspent by the Republican.
Romney’s campaign seems to have conceded the state to the president, and Casey — whose name continues to be an asset in Northeast Pennsylvania and in the western third of the state, where the president is stunningly weak — is almost certain to run ahead of Obama statewide.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.