Massachusetts -- The "center of gravity" seems to have shifted in favor of Elizabeth Warren (D) in her challenge to Sen. Scott Brown (R). Brown has not led in a poll since early October, and his revival of the issue of Warren’s use of alleged Native American background to her professional advantage appears to have fizzled. But … Brown was a strong closer in his first race, and whatever lead Warren holds is narrow.
Ohio – The other Sen. Brown -- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) – appeared to have a strong lead on challenger Josh Mandel (R), but a new SurveyUSA poll has Mandel back within a point. But while Mandel has shown the ability to keep Brown’s ratings low, he hasn’t really shown signs of surging himself (low-mid-40s in most polls). Ohio will be the main focus of both parties the final two weeks, and there’s no way of knowing how much the presidential activity could impact this race.
Connecticut – Three new polls show Rep. Chris Murphy (D) holding a narrow lead over businesswoman Linda McMahon (R). A Democratic vote will be the “default” position in Connecticut (President Obama is expected to win big there), so McMahon will have to overcome that presumption. So far, despite a less-than-overwhelming effort from Murphy, it looks like she’s unlikely to make it. But, if nothing else, she’s served her party by forcing the Democrats to play in a state they weren’t expecting to worry about.
North Dakota – The same can be said, perhaps, about former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D). Polls show Rep. Rick Berg (R) pulling ahead, but Heitkamp has kept the entire campaign competitive.
Virginia – What can you say about these guys (former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former Gov. and Sen. George Allen (R))? They’ve been running against each other for well over a year and they’re still in a dead heat. Kaine appeared to have a narrow lead in September, but that has faded along with Obama’s apparent advantage there. Romney is now favored to win the Old Dominion, but expect Kaine to run ahead of Obama. How much ahead is the key question.
Wisconsin – A mixed bag of recent polls has the RealClearPolitics.com average at a dead heat in the Badger State. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) led narrowly in two polls and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) led narrowly in two others. The “ground game” will matter, and the GOP troops led by Gov. Scott Walker (just having survived a recall fight for his political life) may have the edge there.
Nevada – Now here’s a race the Republicans can be happy about. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) continues to be slowed by ethical issues, and appointed Sen. Dean Heller (R) seems to have taken a solid lead in recent polls.
Indiana – There haven’t been a lot of polls in Indiana, but State Treasurer Richard Mourdock might be finally pulling together the Republican vote that he struggled to consolidate after a divisive primary win. Romney made an ad in favor of Mourdock, and the partisan edge seems likely to bring him home.
Missouri – Despite the favorable GOP news in Nevada and Indiana, those states are “holds” and not “pickups.” To gain control of the Senate, the Republicans will need “pickups.” They thought they’d get one in Missouri, where Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is not widely popular, is dogged with ethical issues, and is hampered by her vote for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). But Rep. Todd Akin (R), obviously, has failed to take advantage of the situation after a large collection of self-inflicted wounds. Polls show McCaskill holding the lead, despite some late efforts from GOP leaders to boost Akin.