Here’s my current list: as always, this is a subjective take. Brief explanations after the fold; I will note that candidate recruitment has its usual priority, but that it is perhaps time that we on the Right as a group start thinking about how to win with mediocre candidates, too. God knows that our opposite numbers have learned to do precisely that.
|Alaska||Mark Begich||Serious Risk|
|Arkansas||Mark Pryor||Serious Risk|
|Colorado||Mark Udall||Some Risk|
|Louisiana||Mary Landrieu||Serious Risk|
|Minnesota||Al Franken||Some Risk|
|New Hampshire||Jeanne Shaheen||Some Risk|
|New Mexico||Tom Udall||Low Risk|
|North Carolina||Kay Hagan||Serious Risk|
|Oregon||Jeff Merkley||Low Risk|
|South Dakota||Open||Serious Risk|
|Virginia||Mark Warner||Low Risk|
|West Virginia||Open||Serious Risk|
- Alaska: Mark Begich is a member of a liberal party in a libertarian state who barely squeaked by last time. His best hope right now would probably be to switch parties; people might even buy that.
- Arkansas: Things haven’t changed too much for Mark Pryor; but then, things weren’t good before, either. I’m going to up our chances to toss him.
- Colorado: Mark Udall has some of Mark Begich’s problems, only at a much lower volume. If there’s a backlash on gun control in Colorado, he will have a situation on his hands. This is also DEFINITELY one place where we need a good candidate.
- Iowa: New entry, thanks to Tom Harkin’s retirement. It’d be higher risk if there was a guaranteed good Republican candidate. But it’s in play.
- Louisiana: Mary Landreiu picked a bad election cycle to be a member of a party that hates oil production.
- Massachusetts: Reply hazy: ask again later. If Markey wins, take it off the board. If Gomez wins, it’s ground Zero for the Democrats in 2014 anyway.
- Michigan: Carl Levin has retired, and Michigan has been fertile territory for Republicans lately. Bump it up a notch.
- Minnesota: I hate to downgrade our chances here, but a good challenger to Al Franken has not appeared yet. Bump it down a notch.
- Montana: Max Baucus isn’t just retiring: he’s poisoning the well for Democrats. This is going to be a great pickup opportunity.
- New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen is actually halfway between Some Risk and Low Risk at this point, which would be an improvement for her. We need a good candidate there.
- New Jersey: A lot will depend on whether or not Cory Booker gets the Democratic nomination. But all scenarios where the Republican candidate wins are… well, some possibilities have to be lower-probability than others.
- New Mexico: Nothing’s really changed for Tom Udall. Which is what he’d want.
- North Carolina: Kay Hagan will probably start getting calls soon from the national party asking her if she’d like an ambassadorship, or something.
- Oregon: Jeff Merkley still stays on this list as only an outside chance to lose. We need a good candidate there.
- South Dakota: Tim Johnson’s retiring, and the Democratic leadership is having a fight over who gets the nod to replacement. Thanks, guys!
- Virginia: Ask me again after this year’s Virginia gubernatorial election. Right now Warner’s not sweating things.
- West Virginia: Open seat, the Democrats don’t have a good replacement, they’re not likely to get one.
As for the Republicans… right now the Democrats’ best hope for a pickup is in Georgia, which should tell you how bad it is for them right now. The Maine seat is bulletproof for us as long as Susan Collins wants to keep it. Le affaire Ashley Judd over in Tennessee probably served as a salutary object lesson to anybody thinking of running against Mitch McConnell. And so on. All but one of the Republican-held seats this cycle are in states that we have a pretty good lock on; it’s the next Senate election cycle that will be the nail-biter. Frankly, I don’t know why the Democrats went to such trouble to win Red states in 2008 if they weren’t going to do the things needed to keep them.
My eyeball prediction for right now: +5 Republican, with +6 looking doable. This will change, multiple times, between now and Election Day 2014.