Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

This cycle, the South is dominated by competitive Senate races. That doesn’t mean there won’t be critical House races (including Florida’s 18th and 26th districts) or other interesting contests (such as the crowded Republican primary in Georgia).

Here are the top five races to watch in the South next year:

Arkansas Senate. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, is one of the most vulnerable senators in the country, and he represents a state where President Barack Obama has never been popular. Republicans are likely to nominate Rep. Tom Cotton, who appears to be a rare breed in that he appeals to both the tea party and the establishment. If Republicans can’t defeat Pryor, they ain’t getting back to the majority anytime soon. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up.

Louisiana Senate. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu isn’t anything if not consistent. The Democratic senator was elected to three terms with 52 percent each time. Republicans hope Obama’s midterm is the missing ingredient. GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy is running, but others could join him in the race in this late-breaking state. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up.

Florida’s 2nd District. Democrats are excited about their chosen candidate Gwen Graham, daughter of former governor and former Sen. Bob Graham. But she may have a primary with 2012 nominee Al Lawson. And GOP Rep. Steve Southerland II won’t be easy to defeat in the general election in this polarizing district. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Lean Republican.

North Carolina’s 7th District. Republicans came close to knocking off Rep. Mike McIntyre last year and hope to finish the job in 2014. Republican David Rouzer is running again, but McIntyre will have two years to solidify the newer portions of his redrawn district. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up. Get the full Rothenberg Political Report analysis here ($).

Kentucky Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t on the verge of defeat, but his race against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will certainly be one to watch. From the symbolism to the tens of millions of dollars that will be spent in a state without a major media market, this war could go on for most of next year. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating is Republican Favored.

What races would you add to or subtract from the list?

Note: The South Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia