Republicans need to gain four seats, or three seats plus the White House, to take control. 23 Democratic seats are up, versus 10 Republican. Can they do it? Will it even be close? Here's an overview, with none of the usual partisan rose-colored spectacles.
Here are your contested races:
Maine: Currently Republican, will go independent. Angus King, if only we could clone him.
Wisconsin: Currently Democratic, leans Republican. Rasmussen has done the only recent polling on this, and puts Thompson (R) ahead by 9. PPP last polled at the start of August and had it tied. So this one is a toss-up, but Ryan's favorability numbers statewide in a CNN poll from mid August are +18. Romney's favorability is +3, so I'm putting this one as a loss for the Democrats.
Nevada: Currently Republican, will go Democratic. Polls show this one neck and neck, I'm calling it on the basis of coatails. Every poll - even Rasmussen - shows Obama ahead, most by 5 or 6, and the trend has been towards the incumbent President. In addition, this race is in the Pacific time zone. Election night, there's a good chance that the Presidential race will be called once the polls close on the east coast, if Obama wins even two of the big four (Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, I'm assuming he gets Pennsylvania). That's 5 pm in Nevada, sending Republican turnout down and Democratic turnout up. In addition, this was a strong state for Ron Paul, his supporters are, to put it mildly, not enthusiastic about Romney
North Dakota: Currently Democratic, will go Republican. Polls are all over the place on this one, but I'm making another coattails call: Romney will carry the state by a wide margin and take Berg with him. If anything, I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the Republicans here, as Heitkamp has shown recent momentum and is closing the gap. Expect big money from Rove's Crossroads GPS to keep Berg above water until election day.
Missouri: Currently Democratic, will go Republican, even after going full Neanderthal, Akin's poll numbers didn't drop.
Massachusetts: Currently Republican, will go Democratic, Warren is running a better campaign.
Nebraska: Currently Democratic, will go Republican. Fischer is stomping Kerrey by over 20 points.
Too close to call: Arizona (R). Normally this would be a slam-dunk for Republicans, but Democrats have a very strong candidate in Carmona, and if Hispanic turnout is high he has a shot.
That's a net pickup for Republicans of 1 seat, assuming Maine independent Angus King caucuses with the Democratic majority (which is very likely). If Flake loses the Arizona race, zero change in the numbers.
Looking ahead to 2014, 20 Democratic seats are up, versus 13 Republicans. A particularly juicy target for Democrats that year will be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who won reelection in 2008 with only 53%.
Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 5:11 PM PT: Looks like I was very wrong on Missouri. I've never been happier to be wrong. While Akin could get out of the race via a petition to a judge, it looks like he's going to ride this one in to the ground. That changes the number for my prediction to net zero, no net gain or loss.