Montana: Sen. John Tester (D) vs. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R)
Montana has developed into an extremely close race between incumbent Sen. John Tester and the state’s at-large congressman, Denny Rehberg. This is likely to be the race that goes deepest into the night; in polls since June, neither candidate has led by more than 4 points, and the current RealClearPolitics average gives Rehberg an insignificant 0.2 percent advantage. Notably, however, the conservative-skewing Rasmussen poll has shown Tester leading, 49-48.
The race comes down to Montana’s natural red skew versus Rehberg’s unpopularity. In a Public Policy Polling poll, Rehberg had only a 37 percent approval rating, versus 54 percent of Montanans who disapproved of him. Nevertheless, in a Republican state like Montana, Rehberg has enough residual support to have a good chance.
Republicans certainly have to hope so. It’s very hard to see them taking control of the Senate without picking up Tester’s seat.
Of course, while these seats are the closest, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other competitive races. In Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill has held a steady lead over Republican challenger Todd Akin, but it’s still barely possible that Akin could pull an upset. In Connecticut, Linda McMahon at one point was close to Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy in the polls, though she’s faded somewhat in recent weeks. Arizona, meanwhile, represents a chance for a surprise pick-up by the Democrats; Rep. Jeff Flake has generally held a lead over former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, but a few polls have shown Carmona ahead.
Regardless, Republicans face an uphill battle. Unless they can surprise in Missouri or Connecticut, they need to run the table in the rest of the races if they hope to win control of the Senate. If Democrats win even one or two of these six races to watch, they maintain control of the body, and the ability to support Barack Obama’s agenda — or oppose Mitt Romney’s, depending.
Read more: 2012 election, denny rehberg, elizabeth warren, george allen, Heidi Heitkamp, Jim Tester, joe donnelly, richard mourdock, Rick Berg, scott brown, senate, tammy baldwin, Tim Kaine, tommy thompson
Image Credit: Donkey Hotey
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