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The Fix: Republican wins give Democrats hope

8. Missouri (R): The Show Me State Senate race is one of the toughest in the country to get a handle on. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is touted by Democrats as one of their top -- if not their best -- recruits in the country. And, while Rep. Roy Blunt (R) has performed impressively on the fundraising front and is, by all accounts, a very savvy politician, he will have to defend his years as a member of the House Republican leadership team. Still, Missouri was the only targeted state in 2008 that went for Sen. John McCain (Ariz), a fact that suggests there is a considerable (and non-persuadable) Republican base in the state. (Previous ranking: 10)

7. Pennsylvania (D): Sestak's victory creates a fascinating general election matchup with former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) -- two iconoclastic Members who have built their reputations on doing things their own way. Toomey's may be the most underrated campaign in the country; with little fanfare or press attention he has not only moved to the middle ideologically but has also banked $4.6 million for the race ahead. Sestak's quirky appeal is not to be underestimated, however, particularly in an election cycle like this one where different is better in the eyes of voters. (Previous ranking: 7)

6. Illinois (D): Kirk's inability to put out the fire caused by a discrepancy in his military resume suggests that the candidate, who, prior to this controversy, had run a flawless race, might not be so perfect after all. Combine Kirk's problems and those of Giannoulias, which are still significant and majorly problematic even though they haven't gotten much attention of late, and you have a recipe for what we believe will be the nastiest Senate race in the country this fall. (Previous ranking: 5)

5. Nevada (D): Angle's victory on Tuesday night puts Reid somewhere he hasn't been in a long time: in the game. Prior to Tuesday, it was almost impossible for a thinking person to carve out a path for Reid to re-election. Now, with Angle's controversial stands on a variety of issues, you can see how the Senate Majority Leader could turn the race into a choice rather than a referendum this fall. Still, and we can't emphasize this strongly enough, Reid has lingered in the low 40s in general election matchups (against Angle and everyone else) for the better part of the last year and his favorable ratings are still in the 30s. Not impressive for any politician -- particularly one who has spent as much time in office as Reid. (Previous ranking: 4)

4. Indiana (D): Democrats like their matchup in the Hoosier State: telegenic two-term Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) against former Senator (and lobbyist) Dan Coats (R). But President Obama's win in Indiana in the last presidential election belies the conservative nature of the state. Coats may not be the right profile for an outsider election like this one but he is running in the right state in the right year. (Previous ranking: 6)

3. Arkansas (D): Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (D) surprise runoff victory on Tuesday night over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is almost certain to give her a temporary boost in her general election race against Rep. John Boozman (R). But, can Lincoln sustain that momentum for the next five months or so? Arkansas went strongly against President Obama in 2008 and stayed there. It's a tough road for Lincoln although she's already beat the political expectations game once in this election. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Delaware (D): Democrats like what they see from Newcastle County Executive Chris Coons. And, against most Republicans in the Democratic state of Delaware, Coons would be in the driver's seat. But, Republicans recruited Rep. Mike Castle, the popular moderate Congressman and former governor, as their nominee. Expect Coons to try to use Castle's long record of service in the state against him in this anti-incumbent year. But, Castle has used those years in office to build deep relationships across the state that will be hard for Coons to break. (Previous ranking: 3)

1. North Dakota (D): Sen. John Hoeven (R). (Previous ranking: 1)


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