GOP appears in good standing to reclaim Senate in November 

Republicans may have a better chance of winning the Senate than the House in the midterm elections in November. And their prospects for taking over the Senate appear to be getting better by the day. At least that’s what polls indicate. But politics can be fickle and poll numbers fleeting. So nothing is guaranteed.

The good news for Republicans comes in two parts. First, they’re ahead in four of the six open Republican seats and tied in two. That’s a great improvement from, say, late last year. Second, in the 11 Democratic seats in play, they’re ahead in five, tied in four and within easy striking distance in the other two. Not bad for a party that was crushed in the past two national elections.

Republicans trail Democrats 59-41 in the Senate today. They need 10 pickups to take control. To capture the House, Republicans would have to gain 40 seats, which is not out of the question but is still a steep climb.

Let’s take a close look at the Democratic seats.

Republican Dino Rossi, twice an unsuccessful candidate for governor, trails Democratic Sen. Patty Murray by a single point in Washington. And Republican businessman Ron Johnson is two points behind Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold.

Two Democratic seats are all but conceded — in North Dakota, where Republican Gov. John Hoeven is miles ahead for the seat of retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan, and in Delaware, where Republican Rep. Mike Castle is far ahead of any Democrat.

Indiana and Arkansas also look like Republican pickups. In Indiana, former Sen. Dan Coats leads Democrat Brad Ellsworth, currently a House member, by 15 points. And in Arkansas, Republican Rep. John Boozman is 20 points in front of Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln in a Daily Kos poll and 11 points up on her primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

In Illinois, Republican Mark Kirk has a three-point lead over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer. Kirk is a House member. The opposite is true in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Joe Sestak is three points ahead of Republican Pat Toomey. Sestak is a House member, and Toomey a former congressman.

Colorado, Nevada and California are more complicated. In Colorado, the two leading Republicans, Jane Norton and Ken Buck, lag three to six points behind Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and two to three behind Bennet’s primary challenger, Andrew Romanoff, in polls.

In Nevada, three Republican candidates — Sue Lowden, Danny Tarkanian, and Sharron Angle — are tightly clustered. They are either ahead of or behind Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, by three points or fewer, according to a Mason-Dixon poll of likely voters.

Finally, in California, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer trails Republican Tom Campbell by seven points but leads Republican Carly Fiorina by six in a Los Angeles Times poll.

That’s it. All Republicans need to sweep these races and grab control of the Senate after four years of Democratic rule are two things: One, voter turnout in which enthusiastic Republicans show up in disproportionate numbers; and two, a political wave across the country that lifts Republican candidates everywhere.

But the new Gallup generic ballot poll, giving Republicans a record six-point lead, suggests there’s a better chance than ever before that both will occur on Election Day.

Fred Barnes is the executive editor of The Weekly Standard, from which this article is excerpted.

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Fred Barnes

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Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard

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