The 11 Hottest Midterm Races to Watch
Will Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer survive? Can the Republicans take Obama’s old seat—and the Senate? The Daily Beast surveys the state of play with the Election Oracle for November’s biggest races.
Joe Miller vs. Lisa Murkowski
The senatorial ménage à trois in Alaska is getting red hot, and a little kinky. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller deposed incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R) in the Republican primary, and he's leading in a new poll out Monday. The Election Oracle gives Miller a 40 percent chance of winning.
Russ Feingold vs. Ron Johnson
Tuesday could deliver a stunning defeat to the so-called conscience of the Senate, Russ Feingold (D), a three-term incumbent in Wisconsin. Feingold had held a consistent lead in the polls, but since mid-September he's been trailing Republican candidate Ron Johnson by up to 9 points. With only a 20 percent chance of victory according to the Election Oracle, Feingold looks to be toast.
Alexi Giannoulias vs. Mark Kirk
Losing Barack Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois would be a tremendous symbolic blow to the Democrats, not to mention a very real blow to their Senate majority. And the way the race between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk is going, it looks like they might. The Oracle has Kirk ahead with a 60 percent chance of winning.
Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle
The contest in Nevada between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and Republican challenger Sharron Angle is emblematic of the spirit of 2010. An insurgent far-right conservative launches an assault on a Democratic candidate who embodies the political establishment, and if the Democrats aren't squirming, they should be. Polls have the two candidates split down the middle, but the Oracle gives Angle a 70 percent chance of winning.
Barbara Boxer vs. Carly Fiorina
Once a competitive race, California looks to be in the Democratic column on election night. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is polling well above Carly Fiorina (R), up to 9 points in some polls. The Oracle gives Boxer only a 70 percent chance of victory. Democrats will be keeping a close eye on this race all night, hoping to see a once seriously threatened left-wing stalwart return to office, and, not incidentally, looking for a little high-profile and probably much-needed good news.
Heath Shuler vs. Jeff Miller (NC11)
The House race in the North Carolina 11th is proof that campaigning to the right of President Obama is no assurance that a conservative Democrat can hold on to his seat in this election climate. Running in a district with a slight Republican tinge, incumbent Heath Shuler (D) voted against TARP, against the stimulus, and against the health-care bill, and still he's polling just a hair above the challenger Jeff Miller (R). The Oracle is split down the middle giving Shuler a 50 percent chance of victory.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin vs. Kristi Noem (SD At Large)
A Democrat in a solidly Republican state, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin looks ready to lose the at-large congressional seat she won in 2004. Tea Party favorite and official "Mama Grizzly" Kristi Noem has raised an astounding $1.1 million in her bid to defeat Herseth Sandlin, and it may prove to be money well spent. They're polling evenly, and the Oracle gives them each a 50 percent chance of winning.
Martin Heinrich vs. Jon Barela (NM1)
New Mexico's 1st district should be a Democratic lock—Obama won it with 60 percent of the vote in 2008. But the spirit of the season has a Republican challenger, Jon Barela, nipping at the heels of the recently elected Democrat Martin Heinrich. Barela trails Heinrich just 49 to 51 percent, and the Oracle splits their likelihood of winning right down the middle.
Frank Caprio vs. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Rhode Island's gubernatorial election is bizarro-world state politics at its finest. In this case, a Democratic win could actually be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, after Democratic nominee Frank Caprio told the president to "shove it" when he declined to endorse anyone in the three-way race. Republican John Robitaille is running dead last, but former Republican senator and Obama confidant Lincoln Chafee is running strong as a liberal independent. Caprio is polling just a touch above Chafee, but the Oracle gives them each a 40 percent chance of coming out the victor.
John Kitzhaber vs. Chris Dudley (OR)
Oregonians haven't elected a Republican governor since 1982, but with this year's razor-thin margin they very well may in 2010. Democrat John Kitzhaber trailed Republican Chris Dudley for most of this cycle, though he has surged in the last few weeks. The Oracle has them running neck-and-neck, each with 50 percent in the polls and a 50 percent chance of winning.
John Hickenlooper vs. Dan Maes vs. Tom Tancredo (CO)
Colorado is hosting one of this year's wacky three-way races, between Democrat John Hickenlooper, Republican Dan Maes, and erstwhile Republican, now American Constitution Party candidate, Tom Tancredo. With a 90 percent chance of victory according to the Oracle, the race is Hickenlooper's to lose. Maes is trailing badly, but Tancredo, a right-wing immigration hawk, has been steadily climbing in the polls and in the closing days of this cycle he's posing a very unexpected, very credible threat to Hickenlooper.