Top 10 toss-up Senate races of 2014Posted by Jared Day on September 28, 2014
With the 2014 midterm election only a month away, the outlook for Republicans is favorable as they seek to win the six seats necessary to take control of the Senate. Many key Senate battleground races show just a point or two separating Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have kept things close by leading among women in every battleground Senate race.
Republican candidates have done well strengthening their bases, but the true test is whether they can add enough undecided voters to fully capitalize on President Obama’s growing unpopularity. With 37 days left until the 2014 election, there are at least ten Senate races considered toss-ups by major pollsters.
Conservative Tom Cotton is tied with liberal Senator Mark Pryor according to recent polls. Cotton, a combat veteran, has been making the case against amnesty and for stronger border enforcement while Pryor voted to give illegal immigrants amnesty and Social Security benefits. Pryor is attempting to hide his record while smearing Tom Cotton with false attacks. Pryor has even accused Cotton of supporting the Ebola virus.
Recent polls show that Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan has pulled ahead of Democratic Sen. Mark Begich adding more drama to a race that could decide control of the Senate. Sullivan’s lead may in part be explained by his effective ads slamming Begich for his absenteeism in Congress. President Obama’s dismal approval rating in Alaska (below 35 percent) is also hurting Begich.
Joni Ernst, the Iraq War veteran and little-known conservative Iowa state senator, burst onto the political scene earlier this year with perhaps the most popular TV ad of the political primary season. Bruce Baley is working to repair his image as an out-of-touch Washington insider, a series of early gaffes did not help his cause. Ernst’s conservative views, combined with her interesting personal story and boundless energy, have made her one of this election year¹s most high-profile tea party favorites. She is leading in what has been seen as one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.
The race between incumbent Senator Mark Udall and challenger Representative Cory Gardner devolving into a dead heat. As both candidates shell out money hand over fist, things are getting dirty.
Udall has voted for virtually every major Obama domestic initiative, including the president’s economic stimulus package and, of course, Obamacare. The senator voted against a Democratic plan to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline but also opposed Republican efforts calling for its completion. And while he opposed a ban on assault weapons, calling it too broad, he instead backed a Democratic plan to limit high-capacity ammunition clips.
Cory Gardner has a record that reflects his desire to rein in out-of-control spending and build consensus on issues where he can find common ground with his colleagues.
Republican Scott Brown is in a dead heat with Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in his bid to unseat her from the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll by CNN. Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts, moved to New Hampshire to run in a more friendly environment. Sen. Shaheen is hurt by New Hampshire residents’ opinion of Barack Obama. The President only has a 38% approval rating among New Hampshire adults; Brown has capitalized on this throughout the campaign.
Incumbent Sen. Landrieu began with a significant lead before the two candidates switched positions at the start of 2014. The race has since been very close. Due to the complexity of Louisiana’s election system, this race may not be decided until December. There are nine candidates — Republicans, Democrats, and a Libertarian — on the ballot this November, and if no candidate crosses the 50% threshold, the race moves into a December runoff between the top two contenders.
A recent court ruling lead to the removal of the Democratic candidate from the ballot, clearing the way for a showdown between Sen. Pat Roberts and independent Greg Orman. Taking out the incumbent senator is difficult in since Kansas is a solid red state, but so far Orman has shown he could do it. If Roberts is going to win, he needs to define Orman as a de facto Democrat.
The Democratic incumbent North Carolina senator continues to lead her Republican challenger, Thomas R. “Thom” Tillis, who has been able to survive the ad blitz and keep the race stable at an average of 4% difference. Sen. Rand Paul decided to head for North Carolina this week and campaign for Tillis. Sen. Paul previously supported Greg Brannon, the tea party opponent in the primary for Thom Tillis.
Democrats have identified Michelle Nunn as perhaps their best opportunity to pick up a seat and frustrate the GOP’s push for a Senate majority. However, the race is moving away from Nunn, as people tune in and Georgia reverts to its fundamentals. She has been hurt by fallout from an unintended leak of a campaign plan that detailed her strategy and discussed her potential weaknesses.
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Lands are battling for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Democrat Carl Levin. With only 37 days until the election, recent polls are showing Land is gaining momentum, as she was previously down by six to nine points earlier this summer. These recent polls are encouraging considering Land has gotten non-stop bad press and liberal Super-Pacs have spent millions trashing her.
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