Bloomberg News

What to Watch Tonight: U.S. Senate

November 06, 2012

Neither party is expected to have a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate after tomorrow’s elections, meaning political gridlock will continue into the new Congress and moderates will have great influence in deciding legislative battles.

Democrats are fighting to hold onto a razor-thin majority. If Republicans seize the chamber, they’ll have control of Congress for the first time in six years, as the GOP probably will retain dominance in the House.

The website RealClearPolitics.com, which compiles polling data on every race, projects that Democrats have 49 safe or non- contested Senate seats while Republicans have 44. It classifies seven races as “toss ups.”

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Maine’s former Governor Angus King, who’s running as an independent, could play a big role in determining which party controls the Senate. The former Democrat hasn’t declared which party he would caucus with, should he win.

Other states to watch:

-- Massachusetts, where a Republican who’s been willing to cross party lines on some votes, Scott Brown, faces Elizabeth Warren, the force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in a state projected to back Democrat Barack Obama in a landslide. A RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Warren ahead by 3.5 percentage points yesterday.

-- Montana, where incumbent Democrat Jon Tester is in a coin-toss race with the state’s only representative, Republican Denny Rehberg, and Nevada, where incumbent Republican Dean Heller holds a small polling lead over Democratic representative Shelley Berkley. Polls in both states close at 10 p.m. Eastern time, the latest of any swing seats.

-- Virginia, North Dakota and Wisconsin, where Republican challengers who’ve all held statewide elected office are contesting open seats currently held by Democrats.

-- Missouri and Indiana, where Republican primary winners Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock invigorated the opposition with comments about rape.

-- Connecticut, where Republican Linda McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE:US) president and chief executive, has poured more than $40 million of her own money into defeating Democratic Representative Chris Murphy. Despite being outspent more than 4-to-1, Murphy held a small edge in five polls released since mid-October.

-- Democratic incumbents in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan have well-funded Republican challengers, so those states also are worth keeping an eye on.

To contact the reporters on this story: Derek Wallbank in Washington at dwallbank@bloomberg.net; Chris Strohm in Washington at cstrohm1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo5@bloomberg.net


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