Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Senate Battle Remains Close; Democrats Set for Small House Gains

Republican candidates are also making waves in Pennsylvania, where self-funding businessman Tom Smith (R) has closed in on Sen. Bob Casey (D), and in Connecticut, where former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R) is competing against Rep. Christopher Murphy (D). Both states that were hardly on the radar at the beginning of the year have attracted an influx of outside spending in the past month.

“In many ways the battle for the Senate reflects what we’re also seeing in the presidential race — a lot of very close battles but a continued trend in the Republicans’ direction as more voters focus on the Democrats’ failed economic leadership,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said.

The most glaring missed opportunity for Republicans will likely turn out to be Missouri, where the race took a stunning turn in the direction of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) after GOP Rep. Todd Akin’s comment about “legitimate rape.” Yet the undoing of the party’s quest for a majority may end up being Democrats’ surprising number of offensive opportunities. 

The number of seats the GOP must win for a majority increases with every Republican seat lost. Beyond Maine, Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) could defeat appointed Sen. Dean Heller (R) in a stubbornly close race, Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) could capitalize on state Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s (R) remark about rape and pregnancy in a recent debate, and while the race is close, Warren’s prospects for victory have never looked better.

Democrats are even hoping for a win in Arizona, where former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) is taking on Rep. Jeff Flake (R) in a state that Romney will carry.

“Democrats are cautiously optimistic we will keep the majority,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter said. “We have recruited stronger candidates and forced Republicans to spend millions playing defense in five of the 10 Republican-held seats on the map.”

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