US Senate races to watch on November 606 november 2012, 13:39
About one-third of the US Senate's 100 seats are up for grabs on November 6.
With 23 of those 33 seats being defended by Democrats, rival Republicans see a realistic -- albeit slim -- chance of gaining four seats and seizing control of the chamber.
Here are six races to watch on election day. (D) stands for Democrat, and (R) for Republican:
MASSACHUSETTS: Incumbent Scott Brown (R) vs Elizabeth Warren (D)
One of the most expensive Senate races in the nation is in Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's backyard. In a squeaker, Brown won the 2010 special election after the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, but is now in the political fight of his life against Warren, an influential public policy expert who portrays herself as a champion of the middle class. Warren has the recent momentum, and RealClearPolitics shows her ahead by 4.4 percentage points.
Senator Scott Brown. ©REUTERS
Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. ©REUTERS
MISSOURI: Incumbent Claire McCaskill (D) vs Todd Akin (R)
With McCaskill's approval rating in negative territory for much of her term, the Show-Me State was to be one of the easiest pick-ups for Republicans in their bid to take back the Senate -- until Akin went rogue. His comment in August that a woman's body has the ability to prevent conception in the case of "legitimate rape" caused a national furor. He apologized but refused Republican demands for him to step down. The polls have flipped; McCaskill now leads Akin by five percentage points.
US Senate candidates for Missouri Akin and Senator McCaskill. ©REUTERS
MONTANA: Incumbent Jon Tester (D) vs Denny Rehberg (R)
Tester is facing a fierce challenge in Big Sky Country from Rehberg the state's lone member in the House of Representatives. Montana routinely votes Republican in the presidential race, and 2012 will be no different. While Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is a popular Democrat, the state has actually grown more conservative since Tester eked out a one-point win in 2006. Polls show the race a dead heat, with RealClearPolitics showing Rehberg 0.4 points ahead.
Jon Tester. ©REUTERS
Denny Rehberg. ©REUTERS
OHIO: Incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) vs Josh Mandel (R)
In this most crucial swing state of the 2012 election, down-ballot contests will be deeply affected by voter turnout for the presidential race. President Barack Obama's slim lead in Ohio is good news for Brown, who faces a spirited challenge by Republican political boy wonder Mandel, the young state treasurer. Brown is quite liberal for Ohio, but he retains a 5.2 percent lead over his rival. A Republican victory here would be a coup.
Democrat Sherrod Brown. ©REUTERS
Josh Mandel. ©REUTERS
VIRGINIA: George Allen (R) vs Tim Kaine (D)
Democrat Jim Webb is retiring, and Democrats are struggling to hold on to his Senate seat in a state where demographic changes have made it a crucial presidential battleground. The race will spin substantially around who is perceived as most supportive of the military, which has a major presence in Virginia. Both Kaine and Allen are former governors. Kaine has a 0.8 percent lead.
Former Virginia Governor George Allen. ©REUTERS
Senate candidate Tim Kaine. ©REUTERS
WISCONSIN: Tammy Baldwin (D) vs Tommy Thompson (R)
With Democrat Herb Kohl retiring, "Tommy vs. Tammy" has emerged as a premier showdown, with Republicans salivating at the thought of a pickup in a swing state that has swung more Democrat than Republican for several years. Baldwin is a seven-term congresswoman, who if elected would become the first-ever openly gay member of the Senate. Thompson, a former four-term governor who left in 2001 to serve in George W. Bush's cabinet, has accused her of being too liberal. He had led in polling most of the year, but Baldwin pulled even in September and now holds a 2.2 percent lead, according to the RealClearPolitics aggregate.
Republican Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson and Democratic candidate Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. ©REUTERS