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Originally published October 9, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Page modified October 10, 2012 at 6:10 AM

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Senate races

Republicans were thought at one point to stand a good chance of regaining the Senate majority they lost in 2006, but most handicappers now...

The Washington Post

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Republicans were thought at one point to stand a good chance of regaining the Senate majority they lost in 2006, but most handicappers now expect them to fall short. There are 33 Senate seats being contested.

Arizona

Democrats stand a good chance at pulling an upset in this red state. Polls continue to show former surgeon general Richard Carmona in a close race with GOP Rep. Jeff Flake. Carmona, who was surgeon general under President George W. Bush, was recruited by President Obama to run for the Senate. Flake is a fiscal conservative who has earned a reputation of bucking his party.

Maine

Independent former Gov. Angus King started this race as the heavy favorite. Neither party put up any big-name opponents against him, and Democrats seem to be hoping that he would win and caucus with them in the Senate. But negative GOP ads against King have moved Republican GOP Secretary of State Charlie Summers into serious contention.

North Dakota

This one is close. Former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp has turned into one of the best Democratic recruits of the year, putting in play a state that was thought to be solidly in the GOP's column. The GOP nominee, freshman Rep. Rick Berg, isn't getting such sterling reviews. So far, Heitkamp's early support for Obamacare has not hurt her much.

Virginia

The shape of this race has changed a little in recent weeks, with polling showing Democrat Tim Kaine jumping to an 8-point lead over former Sen. George Allen. The GOP plan was to attach Kaine to President Obama, but with polls showing the president a slight favorite to carry the state, that strategy has paid limited dividends thus far.

Montana

This has been close from the beginning and is expected to stay that way to the end. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg have always been within a few points of each other. Republicans have tried to tie Tester to Obama, while Democrats have attacked Rehberg as a lobbyist and for suing his local fire department after a wildfire damaged his property.

Indiana

Richard Mourdock's upset of Sen. Richard Lugar in the state's GOP Senate primary opened the door for Democrats in a state that is expected to go Republican at the presidential level. Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly has won in a tough House district before. If the GOP somehow finds a way to lose this one, it can likely say goodbye to its majority hopes.

Massachusetts

The country's most high-profile Senate race pits former Obama adviser, and liberal hero, Elizabeth Warren against Sen. Scott Brown, a popular Republican senator with a moderate, every-man vibe. For a while, Brown's appeal seemed to be winning the day. But this is Massachusetts, and his party affiliation is a liability. Recent polls show Warren with a small edge.

Wisconsin

Former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson's attempted political comeback was looking good up until a few weeks ago. He survived a tough primary and was leading Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in early general-election polls. But as Obama has risen in the polls here, so has Baldwin. Look for Republicans to focus on Baldwin's record as one of the most liberal members of Congress.

Nevada

Republican Sen. Dean Heller appears to be a slight favorite to retain the seat forfeited by disgraced former Sen. John Ensign, but it won't be easy. But Nevada is a swing state at the presidential level, and Democratic nominee Shelly Berkley is a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who will do plenty to help her down the stretch.

Connecticut

Linda McMahon, a Republican, is a different candidate from two years ago when she lost another open-seat contest by double digits. Almost every recent poll shows a close race with Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, despite Connecticut's Democratic tendencies. But for McMahon, whose wrestling empire has been tainted by scandal, the game is to build a personal brand separate from her wrestling identity.

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