Republicans have reason to be happy heading into the midterm elections, with forecasts from respected outlets such as the Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight.com pointing toward a GOP takeover of the Senate. At the Washington Post, however, Dan Balz isn't quite so convinced. Republicans need to pick up six seats, and Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia look like gimmes. Beyond that, however, things get more difficult. Republicans "have plenty of options but their victories must come either by defeating Democratic incumbents in red states or picking off seats in blue or purple states that Obama and the Democrats have been winning in presidential elections," writes Balz.
Republicans boast that they can take the Senate without winning in any state that Mitt Romney lost, but to do so, they'd have to knock off incumbents in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, and North Carolina. None are gimmes, especially the latter two. Democrats, meanwhile, say they've got better candidates overall and a stronger "ground game" to turn out voters. Balz sums up by saying Republicans are "in an enviable but not yet commanding position." They may yet take the Senate, but they'll have to "earn it state by state by state." At the Hill, James Carville adds that Democrats can take heart from one stat: The GOP's favorability rating is hovering around 35%, with Democrats at 49%. "In what other endeavor would you be selling something attached to a brand so unpopular and expect success?" he asks. Click for Carville's full post, or for Balz's full post.