The battle for control of the U.S. Senate is getting closer—much closer. Little more than a week ago, our Balance of Power summary showed the Republicans leading 50-45 with five states in the Toss-Up category. Today, Rasmussen Reports is changing three races from “Toss-Up” to “Leans Democrat.” As a result, Rasmussen Reports now rates 49 seats as Republican or Leans Republican while 48 seats are rated as Democrat or Leans Democrat (see State-by-State Summary). There are now just three states in the Toss-Up category–Tennessee, New Jersey, and Missouri.
Today’s changes all involve Republican incumbents who have been struggling all year. In Montana, Senator Conrad Burns (R) has fallen behind Jon Tester (D). Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee (R) survived his primary but starts the General Election as a decided underdog. Sherrod Brown (D) is enjoying a growing lead over Ohio Senator Mike DeWine (R).
Four other seats are now ranked as “Leans Democrat”—Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, and Michigan.
Virginia is the only state rated as “Leans Republican.”
Democrats have to win all seven states leaning their way plus all three Toss-Ups to regain control of the Senate. While that’s a tall order, recent history shows that it is quite possible for one party or the other to sweep all the close races. The Democrats did so in Election 2000 and the Republicans returned the favor in 2002. If the Democrats win all those seats but one, there would be a 50-50 tie. In that circumstance, Vice-President Dick Cheney would cast the deciding vote in his Constitutional role as the presiding officer of the Senate.