With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.
Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.
While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.
Two Southern Democrats, Arkansas’ Mark Pryor and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu, have run aggressive races as they try to survive the Republican wave that has swept over their states during the past four years. But Arkansas Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has finally opened up a small but decisive lead in his race, a lead likely to grow in the coming weeks.
The Louisiana contest will probably go to a December runoff, and while runoffs are unpredictable, the almost certain GOP alternative to Landrieu in that race, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, has the advantage.