by David Nir
• MA-Sen (Tossup to Lean D): I’m betting that Scott Brown is seriously regretting his agreement with Elizabeth Warren to bar most third-party spending on the race, because you know he’s thinking that a $5 million blitz by Karl Rove sure would be tasty right about now. That’s because the polling’s simply been awful for the Republican senator since Labor Day, ever since the contest took a negative turn. If Brown could have stayed positive and had someone else do his dirty work, he might still be in this thing. But he’s sullied his image, and Massachusetts’ traditional blue instincts have reasserted themselves enough to power Warren to a distinct advantage.
• MO-Sen (Tossup to Lean D): We were among the biggest naysayers when Todd Akin’s epic implosion rocked the Missouri Senate race—surely, we figured, once Akin successfully called the GOP establishment’s bluff and refused to drop out, Crossroads and the NRSC would be right back in the game, and conservative hostility toward Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill would overpower any lingering disgust toward Akin. But even after they could no longer replace Akin on the ballot, Republicans stayed out, McCaskill woke her attack machine out of temporary stasis, and the contest has, remarkably, veered back into the blue column. Why the GOP didn’t spend some of the millions they’re wasting on Josh Mandel on Todd Akin instead, I’m not sure I can answer. But the fact is that they haven’t, and Claire McCaskill may just be the luckiest senator in living memory.
• CA-36 (Lean R to Tossup): I admit it: I was very spooked by the revelations that Democrat Raul Ruiz had once read a letter in support of activist Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975. But despite some ugly headlines, I guess Peltier has about as much resonance these days as Sacco and Vanzetti (and if you have to Google that, well, I’ve just made my point). What’s more, GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s attacks on Ruiz have inspired local Indian tribes (who almost never get involved in politics) to openly chastise her. (See CA-36 bullet below in our “House” section for more on this.) Indeed, Bono Mack’s relationships with minority communities in her district seem to be a real problem for her, especially Latinos, whom she promised to reach out to …after the election. That’s a pretty serious issue, seeing as Hispanics make up 27 percent of the voting population of the redrawn 36th, about a quarter of which is brand-new to MBM. She’s also never faced a serious race, and her rust has put this one into serious play for Team Blue.
• GA-12 (Lean R to Tossup): After the Republicans in control of redistricting screwed Rep. John Barrow something fierce, it was hard to imagine him hanging on: After all, his district see-sawed incredibly, going from 54-45 Obama to 56-44 McCain, one of the biggest swings in the country. But Barrow’d always been good (perhaps a little too good) at cultivating a very conservative profile—and he’s canny enough for me to believe that he knew this day was coming. A recent Democratic internal had him up 48-45 over Republican Lee Anderson, and Anderson never responded. (A dusty Anderson internal from August only had him up 1, anyway.) While Dem third-party groups have been outspent $2.6 mil to $2 mil, Barrow’s crushed Anderson in fundraising, $2.7 mil to just $800K, and Anderson had to spend most of his haul on winning the GOP nomination.