GOP stands to make deep cuts in Dem Senate majority

In order for Republicans to overcome a 59-41 majority and have any hope whatsoever in their long-shot bid to take the Senate in 2010, they would need to:

1) Re-elect Richard Burr in North Carolina and David Vitter in Louisiana. (Net gain: Zero.)
2) Hold their open seats in Florida, Missouri, Ohio and New Hampshire. (Net gain: Zero.)
3) Pick up open Democrat seats in Delaware, Indiana and Illinois (Net gain: Three. Now 56-44.)
4) Defeat vulnerable incumbents Harry Reid in Nevada, Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, Michael Bennet in Colorado, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. (Net gain: Four. Now 52-48.)

And then.

5) Pick up the open Connecticut seat and defeat safe incumbents Kristen Gillibrand in New York, Patty Murray in Washington or Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.

Don't put money on that.

But Republicans could come close, and poll numbers are currently trending in their favor (not that you should assume anything with a little over seven months still to go until Election Day.) Right now.

1) Richard Burr leads his Democrat challenger by an average of 9.7 points, and the latest polls put him over 50 percent with a 16 percent lead.

* David Vitter leads his opponent by an average margin of 16 points, and the latest Rasmussen poll has Vitter crushing likely Democrat nominee Rep. Charlie Melancon by a 57 percent to 33 percent margin.

RESULT: No Republican losses there. Still at 59-41.

2) * Both potential Republican nominees, Gov. Charlie Crist and State Sen. Marco Rubio, hold wide leads over potential Democrat nominee Kendrick Meek in Florida.

* In Missouri, Republican Rep. Roy Blunt leads Democrat Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, and polls show him pulling away.

* Republican Former Congressman Rob Portman holds a steady lead over both Democrat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.

* Former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, the likely Republican nominee, leads Rep. Paul Hodes by anywhere from eight to ten points for New Hampshire's open Senate seat.

RESULT: Republicans hold on to all their open seats. Still at 59-41.

3) * In Delaware, Republican Rep. Mike Castle is crushing likely Democrat nominee Chris Coons by around 20 points.

* Democrat State Treas. Alex Giannoulias leads Republican Rep. Mark Kirk by six points in the race to succeed Illinois Sen. Roland Burris, though those polls show his lead shriking.

* Indiana Republican Rep. John Hostettler is rolling over Democrat Rep. Brad Ellsworth by 18 points as Democrats struggle to hold retiring Sen. Evan Bayh's seat in a state Obama won in 2008.

RESULT: Republicans win two of three open Democrat seats. Now at 57-43.

4) * Sen. Harry Reid trails every likely Republican nominee by double digits in his Quixotic bid to keep his Nevada seat.

* Highly unpopular Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln trails likely Republican nominee Rep. John Boozman by around eight points in Arkansas.

* Colorado Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet trails former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. Norton also leads Bennet's primary challenger, former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, in the latest Rasmussen poll.

* In Pennsylvania, Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter trails Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey by an average of 1.2 points in five polls.

RESULT: All four vulnerable Democrats are losing. Dems plunge to 53-47

5) * With catastrophically unpopular Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd dropping his re-election bid, the party is poised to hang on to his seat. State Attorney General Ricahrd Blumethal leads both likely Republican nominees by 28 and 29 points.

* Sen. Russ Feingold leads both potential Republican nominees by an average of 13 and 17 points in Wisconsin. But if former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is looking at a bid, were to challenge Feingold polls show Republican Thompson beating Feingold by an average

* Washington state Democrat Sen. Patty Murray leads State Sen. Don Benton by 11 points in the latest Rasmussen poll. However, should former gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi jump into the race and challenge her, all three independent polls show Murray losing.

* But New York Democrat Sen. Kristen Gillibrand trails potential Republican nominee former Gov. George Pataki. Though the average deficit is just a half-percent, Pataki leads Gillibrand by six points in the newest poll.

RESULT: Democrats hold on to Connecticut. Gillibrand, Murry and Feingold win. Democrats stay at 53-47.

But announcements by Pataki, Rossi or Thompson, or all three, could put the scenario at anywhere from a narrow 53-47 lead or a 50-50 tie.

If the elections were held today, Republicans would hold all their open seats and re-elect all their incumbents, while taking two of three open Democrat seats and defeating four Democrat incumbents, gouging the Democrat majority down to a 53-47margin.

While the Connecticut seat is safe, Kirsten Gillibrand, Patty Murray and Russ Feingold could all lose should Pataki, Rossi and Thompson announce bids. While unlikely, should current polling hold up a loss of those three seats would tie the Senate.

A distant long-shot combination of Gillibrand, Murray and Feingold losses, and a win by Republican Kirk in Illinois, would hand the Senate majority to Republicans.

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