The race for partisan control of the Senate, in fact, could hinge on this one race. The Republicans came into the 2012 cycle with the playing field tilted in their favor: The Democrats are defending 23 seats while the Republicans are defending only 10. And with a current 53-to-47 Democratic majority, all the GOP needs is a net gain of four seats to take over – or three, if Mitt Romney wins the presidency, since Vice President Paul Ryan would break any tie votes.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report lists seven Democratic-held seats and three Republican-held seats as tossups. In two of the three Republican-held seats, the challengers have an excellent chance at winning: In Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren can beat Sen. Scott Brown (R), who, despite his popularity, is playing on Democratic turf to hold onto the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s old seat. In Maine, the retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) has opened a path for popular independent former Gov. Angus King, who hasn’t said which party he would caucus with, but it’s expected to be Democrats.