Top Races in 2016: The Midwest

Kirk is the most vulnerable Republican senator this cycle. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate in the Midwest Region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Ohio Senate:  The Buckeye State is no stranger to attention and 2016 is no different. Ohio will likely be a presidential battleground and will host a competitive Senate race with the majority at stake. GOP Sen. Rob Portman is seeking a second term after winning in 2010 in a great Republican year. Some Democratic strategists in Washington and Ohio want the party to rally behind former Gov. Ted Strickland, but young Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld doesn’t show any signs of getting out of the race anytime soon. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating of the race is Leans Republican .  

Illinois Senate:  Republican Mark S. Kirk is the most vulnerable senator in the country this cycle. He was narrowly elected in 2010 in a great Republican year, but must run for a second term in a Democratic state in a presidential cycle, when turnout is likely to be more Democratic. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is the likely Democratic nominee, although she is facing a primary. Democrats believe she is just the right candidate to take on Kirk, who is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in 2012. But she is unproven statewide and is relatively untested as a candidate. Kirk probably needs to run a perfect campaign to have a shot at winning, a challenge he may not be able to pull off. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating of the race is Tossup/Tilts Democratic .  

Wisconsin Senate:  Russ Feingold is trying to pull off something that has only happened once before — returning to the Senate by defeating the same candidate he lost to six years earlier. The former Democratic senator is taking on GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, who won their 2010 matchup, 52 percent to 47 percent. The last person to pull off the feat was Rhode Island Democrat Peter Gerry, who lost re-election in 1928 but came back to defeat GOP Sen. Felix Hebert in 1934. This is likely to be one of the most negative contests in the country. But it’s a must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating of the race is Pure Tossup .  

Indiana Senate:  The Hoosier State still leans Republican in most cases but Democrats are hoping for a repeat of the 2012 Senate race when the GOP primary improved their general election chances. This cycle, former GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb jumped into the race nearly simultaneously with Republican Sen. Dan Coats’ announcement not to seek re-election. But Fort Wayne-area Rep. Marlin Stutzman is running and southern Indiana Rep. Todd Young is likely to join them soon. Democrats, including likely nominee/former Rep. Baron Hill, are hoping to face a damaged GOP nominee who they can portray as too extreme for the state. But it’s definitely not clear that they will get the opportunity. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating of the race is Favored Republican .  

Illinois’ 10th District:  A race between Republican Robert Dold against Democrat Brad Schneider is becoming a biannual affair. When Kirk ran for the Senate in 2010, Dold won his competitive open seat. But in 2012, Schneider defeated the GOP incumbent by a little more than a point. Then last cycle, Dold came back to defeat Schneider by a little more than 2 points. Schneider is back and running again, although he may still face a primary against Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering. Dold outperformed the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 and nearly won. Former Illinois Sen. Barack Obama won the district with 63 percent in 2008 and 58 percent in 2012. The Democratic nominee next year should win the 10th easily, but the margin is unclear. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating of the race is Pure Tossup . If Democrats can’t win this seat, they may lose seats next year.  

What races would you add to the list?  

Related: Rematches Invite 'Retread' Label, Familiar Themes Kirk's Race Now Tilts to Democrats Outside Conservative Groups Playing Defense This Cycle Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.