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Election 2012: In Senate, a mighty struggle to maintain status quo

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"The extent to which George Allen is going to link himself and his turnout operation very closely with the Romney campaign is limited," says Mr. Kidd, a professor of political science at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. "If Mitt Romney slides among independent [voters], George Allen doesn't want to be too closely tied to that because he needs those independent voters to vote for him."

Against the grain in the Big Sky

Another type of race in 2012 will feature either a Democrat running strong in a "red" state that is expected to go for Romney, or a Republican running strong in a "blue" one probably destined to pick Obama.

Among these contests are Republican Sen. Scott Brown versus consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren in liberal Massachusetts, and the campaign by Republican Linda McMahon, cofounder of World Wrestling Entertainment, to take down Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in left-leaning Connecticut.

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