Begich is one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents this year.
Landrieu has never won an election with more than 52 percent in the Bayou State, which voted 58 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012. This year she’s facing a top Republican recruit in Rep. Bill Cassidy. They’ll face off in the November jungle primary with Republican Rob Manness, who is backed by conservative outside groups, before a likely runoff.
Despite a crowded GOP primary that could weigh down the eventual nominee, Republicans are at least aided here by its early date (May 6). Still, the incumbent has been preparing for this race for nearly a year already, and Republicans could end up with a weaker candidate than they hoped. Speaker Thom Tillis is the party’s top recruit there, but he faces tea party favorite Greg Brannon and pastor Mark Harris, among others.
This primary could have the greatest effect on the competitiveness of the general of any Senate race this year. Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey are likely to coalesce conservative primary voters, who could propel one of them to the top of a crowded field. Former Points of Light Foundation head Michelle Nunn, a Democrat, is raising serious cash and awaiting her opponent.
What this race looks like in November will depend on how quickly Baucus is confirmed as ambassador to China and whom the Democratic governor appoints to replace him. Republican Rep. Steve Daines and Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh will likely face off in the general in this top pickup opportunity for the GOP.
Democrats missed out on their top two potential recruits and now appear likely to lose the seat in November. Former Gov. Mike Rounds is the favorite among the Republicans, but he faces a crowded primary before likely meeting former Democratic congressional aide Rick Weiland in the general.
It’s hard to find an incumbent from a purple or red state in a better position than Warner. And it remains to be seen what former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie’s path to victory will be.