Senate takeover prospects dim

With 19 days to go, GOP chances of winning the 10 seats needed to take control of the Senate, stalled a bit this week.  Modeling guru Nate Silver now forecasts a net pickup of 7 seats to bring the GOP to 48. The average of poll results show nearly identical results. 

At the moment, the GOP has a clear edge in five Democrat-held seats: North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and Ken Buck is ahead a few points in Colorado. Three races are effectively tied: Democrat-held seats in Nevada, Illinois and West Virginia.

The Democrats maintain small leads in Washington State and California.  Democrats Joe Manchin in West Virginia (who is running away from  Barack Obama as fast as he can), and Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois (who may benefit from military ballots  not being counted) both slightly improved their numbers this week, throwing both races from lean GOP to the dead even category. These are the only 11 Democrat held seats in play at this stage of the cycle.

In Delaware, Chris Coons has opened up a lead of nearly 20 points on Christine O'Donnell. The conventional wisdom was right about which GOP candidate in the primary had a better shot at winning this race. Of the tossups, I think GOP chances are best in Nevada, then West Virginia, and then Illinois.  The Dem character of Illinois, and large number of undecideds, mostly Dems, makes me pessimistic about Kirk winning. If conservatives were more enthusiastic about him it would  help.