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Tilting the toss ups — ranking toss-up Senate races from most likely to go Republican (top, dark red tint) to most likely to go Democratic (bottom, dark blue tint)

Larry Sabato et. al have the analysis here.

Ah, the Senate. The battle for control fascinates us — and all election observers — because there are so many intriguing races and personalities. Yet, as we update our ratings today and move in a new direction on Congress’ upper chamber, it is worth stressing at the outset that no party will truly control the Senate come January 2013. There is no chance at all that Democrats or Republicans will hit the magic 60 seats required to break filibusters and thus run the Senate. Increasingly, it looks likely that the winning party will have a smaller majority than the Democrats do now (53 seats) — if there is a majority at all. The tiny margin for the winning party will enable the new Senate to do what Senates do best: a whole lot of nothing (discounting talk, of course).

I pretty much agree with their analysis. They deliver a good race by race analysis and it is worth the time to read.

The Senate races in Virginia and Nevada intrigue me and will be fiercely fought since they are key battleground states for the Presidency. If the GOP nominee, beats Obama in the state, then the Senate seat will likely go red.

In any event, there will not be a 60 vote majority obtainable by either party. So, the only people that will really care will be Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and their staffs.

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According to the latest Public Opinion Strategies (R) Poll.

A new Public Opinion Strategies (R) poll in Nevada shows Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) leading Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) in the U.S. Senate race by six points, 48% to 42%.

The poll is here.

According to Nevada political reporter extraordinaire John Ralston
, Heller is head in Washoe County by 17 points and also ahead with independents (2 to 1).

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Quite possible in the latest PPP Poll.

The Wisconsin Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl is looking like a genuine Republican pick up opportunity, with both Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann leading all the potential Democratic candidates we tested besides Russ Feingold.

Feingold, who doesn’t seem terribly interested in running, would still be the strongest potential candidate. He has the best favorability rating of anyone we looked at both overall (49/43) and specifically with independents (52/37). He would have the slightest advantage over Thompson, 48-47, and a more healthy one over Neumann at 51-44. Feingold led them by 10 and 12 points respectively when PPP first looked at this race in May so there’s been a good amount of movement toward the Republicans since that time.

Good news for the GOP and if former Senator Feingold does NOT run, this will likely be a gain for the GOP next year.

The entire poll is here.

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U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) speaks at a news conference Friday, May 13, 2011, in Milwaukee. Kohl said he has decided not to run for re-election after serving in the U.S. Senate since 1989

The conventional wisdom was the GOP had a more than a likely chance they would replace Harry Reid as majority leader and take control of the U.S. Senate after the 2012 elections. This is reinforced by the announced retirement of incumbent democratic Senator Herb Kohl.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be on everyone’s mind to replace Kohl, but many think he won’t run. After all, he passed up a chance in 2010 to run against Russ Feingold. Republicans also like the state attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, one of the few Republicans to win statewide in 2006. In 2010 he was reelected with 58 percent of the vote. Unlike other contenders, he could run without risking his current job. Duffy also mentions former congressman Mark Neumann but notes that he “made an unsuccessful bid against Feingold in 1998 and ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year. He got 38 percent after running a dreadful campaign.” A GOP operative with whom I spoke also says “worth mentioning” is wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who ran in 2004.

For now, the betting on the Hill is that the Senate will flip to a Republican majority. I won’t say “control” because 60 is well out of reach. Nevertheless, with Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, West Virginia and Nebraska as potential pick-ups, the Republicans could wind up in the mid-50s. Much will defend, of course, on the nominees and whether the GOP has a strong candidate at the top of the ticket.

Wisconsin will also be in play for the Presidential race and will be a key battleground state. With a contested Senate contest, the spending and media attention will accelerate.

The GOP’s Senate prospects are only looking better.

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