Special to SEGAZINE
Democrats are finding that their path to keeping control of the U.S. Senate this year is getting bumpier.
At least four states where Democrats hold Senate seats that once were seen as fairly safe are now considered in play: Michigan, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire.
They join seven states with Democratic incumbents where analysts see decent bets for Republican pickups: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried all seven in 2012.
The new four are now battlegrounds for the same reasons that plague Democrats elsewhere. The Affordable Care Act is detested in many circles. Anyone associated with Washington is often toxic. And popular Republicans who are running for other offices are often on the ballot.
“The common thread is that there’s a Democrat in the White House who’s not that popular,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan research group at the University of Virginia. “It wouldn’t be surprising if any of those states went Republican.’
Republicans also appear more motivated. “There’s a sense that a possible takeover of the Senate is real, and that will give a boost to the Republicans’ ability to thwart the president’s agenda” said Chris Budzisz, the director of the Iowa-based Loras College Poll. He was speaking of Iowans, but the perception holds more broadly.
Republicans need a net gain of six seats for a Senate majority. Democrats are defending 21 seats, Republicans 15.