The path to a Senate majority is looking tougher for Republicans, even as the playing field continues to expand in the House.
GOP candidates are consolidating leads in some once-competitive races like Florida and Wisconsin, but losing ground in the next tier of states that make up the Democrats' firewall. In Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal's poll numbers are improving after a surge from opponent Linda McMahon and the latest from Quinnipiac gives him a very healthy 11-point lead among likely voters. The Daily Beast’s Election Oracle indicates that he's getting a boost from an outsized—and negative—focus on his opponent, who fares worse on every issue except the deficit.
In Washington, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is also moving to safer ground after some razor-thin polls in her race with Republican candidate Dino Rossi, leading by eight points in a new poll. The Election Oracle puts Murray’s chances at 60-40, though Rossi is generating more positive online buzz across the board. In West Virginia, Governor Joe Manchin scored a 10-point lead in one recent poll, his best in some time. Could the continued attention to a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad that put out a casting call for "hicky" actors to play West Virginians be putting his seat out of play? Or maybe Bill Clinton campaigning for him?
To add to it, Alaska remains unpredictable, with Republican Lisa Murkowski's campaign looking competitive in the polls. Do they even matter, given her huge disadvantage as a write-in candidate? And would she remain a loyal Republican if she won? Murkowski made a bold move on the airwaves this week, putting out a TV spot featuring an endorsement from the late Sen. Ted Stevens, which he recorded shortly before he was killed in a plane crash. The ad included an intro from Stevens' family explaining his decision to endorse Murowski.
Benjamin Sarlin is the Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast and edits the site's politics blog, Beltway Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.