California: Boxer vs. Fiornia
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer managed to stay ahead of Republican challenger and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina heading into the final month of the campaign, but with polls showing a Republican victory within reach, the national GOP announced plans to dump another $1 million into the race. Fiorina and Boxer have gone stride-for-stride in the endorsements and fund-raising arenas, though much of this race will depend on who stands up to the pressure of the campaign in its final two weeks. Regardless of who wins, one thing is for sure: Boxer has never had a challenger like Fiorina in her 17 years in the Senate.
Colorado: Bennett vs. Norton
In the race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennett and Repubilcan challenger Ken Buck, it is the incumbent who has found more difficulties than the challenger. Bennett, who was appointed to the position after his predecessor, Ken Salazar, was tapped by President Barack Obama in 2009 to be U.S. Interior Secretary, has endured a steady beating by Buck in polling and fund-raising. Buck, a Tea Party-backed candidate who won a tough primary battle against popular Lieutenant Gov. Jane Norton, used his victory to surge ahead of Bennett in the polls, and the Republican has not looked back. Most polls give the clear edge to Buck -- especially after Norton urged her supporters to support Buck on Nov. 2.
Connecticut: Blumenthal vs. McMahon
In the race to fill the seat being vacated by embattled Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, who is retiring at the end of 2010, former Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has taken a beating -- most of it self-imposed. His challenger, former wrestling company executive Linda McMahon, was once considered a long-shot to win the race, but has since overcome double digit poll deficits and is poised to pull of perhaps the biggest upset of the 2010 midterm election. First, Blumenthal was called out by The New York Times for claiming he had served in Vietnam when he had actually served stateside during the war and then he couldn't provide coherent an answer for how a job is created during a televised debate. McMahon should not be counted out.
Delaware: Coons vs. O'Donnell
The Delaware Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden was one of the GOP's top targets in 2010, but after Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell defeated longtime politician Mike Castle in the primary, "establishment" Republicans had all but given up. O'Donnell's upset victory propeled her to a national stage, which she used to demonstrate her committment to her state. Although she has emerged as a household name in Delaware, O'Donnell hasn't forgotten the voters, and has run a shrewd campaign. Her opponent, lawyer Christopher A. Coons, has been all but lost in the media frenzy surrounding O'Donnell, but still leads in recent polling. Nevertheless, O'Donnell scored ahead of Coons in July, so the race may be far from over.
Illinois: Giannoulias vs. Kirk
In the rough-and-tumble world of Illinois politics, Republican Mark Kirk has maintained a slight two- to four-point edge over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in the battle for the Senate Seat once held by President Barack Obama. Although he's maintained it, the lead isn't enough to give Kirk a clear path to victory, and because of that most pundits are calling this race a tossup, especially since nearly a fifth of Illinois' likely voters are undecided. Kirk is a 10-term Congressman with a moderate voting record, and Giannoulias is a state treasurer who has family ties to a failed bank that made $20 million in loans to convicted felons. Both have baggage. Both have lots of work to do, and neither can lay claim to victory just yet, so stay tuned.
Nevada: Reid vs. Angle
If Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle can unseat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Nov. 2, the GOP will have succeeded in capturing the crown jewel of the 2010 midterm election. Reid remains perhaps the least popular incumbent in the U.S., but managed to narrow Angle's lead to just four points by Oct. 7 (she had led by more than 10 just after the state's June primary). Nevertheless, the race remains a toss-up, largely because Reid had at one point pulled even with Angle. The fact that Angle, a conservative Republican, has managed to maintain a consistent lead in a state that traditionally leans Democratic should not be overlooked. Either way, expect a nail-biter up until Nov. 2.
New Hampshire: Hodes vs. Ayotte
In a Senate race that Republicans can't afford to lose, GOP nominee and former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte has managed to keep Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes at bay for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Judd Gregg. Although polls showed Ayotte with more than 50 percent of the vote at mid-September 2010, the lead had narrowed somewhat by the beginning of October. This is to be expected to a degree since more people tend to pay closer attention to campaigns as the date of the election nears. Still, Ayotte should not rest on her laurels. Losing a seat for the GOP is just as bad as not winning one.
New York: Gillibrand vs. DioGuardi
In New York, the race to fill Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat is lukewarm for the Republicans. At one point, it didn't seem as though a Republican would step up to take on former Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand who was appointed to the position in 2009, after Clinton received her appointment. Enter Joseph J. DioGuardi, a CPA whose daughter, -- former American Idol contestant -- continues to get more Google hits than her father. DioGuardi has surprised many, however, closing a gaping hole against Gillibrand. Down 29-51 in the polls in July, DioGuardi managed to cut the lead to 41-55 in October. While he has a monumental task ahead of him, don't expect DioGuardi to lay down. After all, numbers are his business!
Ohio: Fisher vs. Portman
Here's another seat Republicans can't afford to lose. Fortunately, in the race for the vacancy created by retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich, former Republican Congressman Rob Portman has maintained a comfortable lead against Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Lee Fisher. It wasn't always that way, though. In June, Fisher held a two-point lead over Portman. Portman has since run a very efficient and focused campaign, hammering Fisher on taxes and jobs. Still, with so much at stake, and the Democratic National Committee targeting this race (Obama carried the state in 2008), Republicans cannot be overconfident at this point. Portman's double digit lead can turn on a dime. It is politics after all, and no one is untouchable.
Pennsylvania: Sestak vs. Toomey
In Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter was losing so badly to former Congressman Pat Toomey that Specter had to switch party affiliations just to avoid getting trounced by the Republican rival. Instead, Specter wound up getting trounced by a relatively unknown Democratic Congressman named Joe Sestak. Toomey, who nearly beat Specter in 2004, is in firm command of this race, but Sestak is a formidable opponent. Recognizing that he had a name recognition problem early in the campaign, Sestak went public with his allegation of electioneering by the Obama administration, and before long he was a household name. With Toomey slowly pulling away, expect Sestak to pull something big out of his hat in the final weeks of the midterm election.