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Watch Dan Cox. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he’s the Libertarian candidate running for the U.S. Senate. If he garners vote percentages in the high single or low double digits, it would allow Sen. Jon Tester (D) to win with a plurality rather than a majority over Rep. Denny Rehberg (R). The two men have been locked in a close race for virtually the entire cycle. Montana is a test to see how willing voters are to split their tickets in an era of polarization. Tester and former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp in neighboring North Dakota both have to overcome strong showings by Romney at the top of the ticket. Montana also features a competitive gubernatorial contest in the race to replace Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), and an open Congressional seat race to replace Rehberg. Republicans must defeat Tester to get back to the majority.
Nevada remains one of eight presidential swing states, although in the campaign’s waning days, it seems Obama has a clear edge in winning its six electoral votes. Obama’s road map is fairly simple: run up the score in Clark County (Las Vegas) and battle Romney to a draw (or even win) in Washoe County, including Reno. With a growing Hispanic population and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) vaunted get-out-the vote operation, a Romney victory would be significant. The question is whether Obama can win the state by a wide enough margin to help Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) defeat Sen. Dean Heller (R). Berkley’s negatives are very high, and she doesn’t have the luxury of running against 2010 nominee Sharron Angle. On the House side, former Rep. Dina Titus (D) is returning to Congress in the redrawn 2nd district, but Democratic hopes of defeating Rep. Joe Heck (R) appear to be fading. In addition, Democrats could lose the new 4th district, where Danny Tarkanian (R) faces Democrat Steven Horsford. If Democrats lose both, they may not gain any seats at all across the country.
Let’s face it: The Golden State is almost never worth watching when it comes to competitive races. But the state’s new legislative redistricting commission and top-two primary system turned the Congressional map on its head, and the two parties are battling over nine seats, the most of any state in the country. Republican incumbents Brian Bilbray, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham and Mary Bono Mack are vulnerable, as are Democrats Jerry McNerney and Lois Capps. Both parties are also fighting over a trio of open seats: the 41st, 47th, and 26th — the latter of which could be one of the most competitive in the country. Democrats need to win virtually all of the competitive races to have a real effect on their nationwide count. A few incumbents are vulnerable against same-party challengers including Democratic Reps. Pete Stark, Joe Baca and Gary Miller, and that doesn’t count the 30th and 44th districts, where an incumbent will lose because they face a Congressional colleague. It looks like Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson and Howard Berman will be forced into retirement.comments powered by Disqus