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First Read's Top 10 Senate takeovers


If it’s Friday, it’s time for another First Read Top 10 list, and today we look at what we consider the most likely Senate seats to switch parties next month. The number in parentheses is our ranking from last month.

1. North Dakota (1): We’ve finally run out of puns to signal that John Hoeven (R) is coming to Washington. SOLID R.
2. Arkansas (2): The buzz we’re hearing is that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) is making up ground against John Boozman (R). But the kind of ground we’re talking about is turning a 20-point race into a 10-point race. PROBABLE R.
3. Indiana (3): How important is a political environment in deciding races who wins races? Consider that if this was ’06 or ’08, Dan Coats (R) probably would lose and Brad Ellsworth (D) would win. But the opposite is likely to take place in November of ’10. PROBABLE R.
4. Wisconsin (8): A recent Russ Feingold (D) ad bemoans celebrating in the end zone before the game is over. But in his race against Ron Johnson (R), Feingold right now is down by two scores with five minutes left. LEAN R.
5. Pennsylvania (4): As we mentioned yesterday, Joe Sestak (D) is gaining ground on Pat Toomey (R). Natural tightening? Or déjà vu to early May, when Sestak began to close on Arlen Specter? LEAN R.
6. Colorado (6): The public polls we’ve seen show Ken Buck (R) leading Sen. Michael Bennet (D), but Democrats say their internals have Bennet ahead. TOSS UP.
7. Illinois (5): Alexi Giannoulias (D) vs. Mark Kirk (R) might be the purest 50%-50% out there. Kirk’s advantage: the national political environment. Alexi’s: the Democratic-leaning state. But make no mistake: Both are very flawed candidates. TOSS UP.
8. Nevada (7): Just like in Illinois, we have no idea who’ll win this Senate race -- Harry Reid (D) or Sharron Angle (R). Did last night’s debate change things? TOSS UP.
9. West Virginia (unranked): Joe Manchin’s (D) campaign has done everything it can to seize on last week’s “hicky” controversy, as well as put distance between himself and national Democrats. But Manchin is in a dog fight against John Raese (R). TOSS UP.
10. Washington (10): Recent public polling has Sen. Patty Murray (D) ahead of Dino Rossi (R). But this is going to be close, which of course is nothing new to Rossi, who barely lost his bid for governor in ’04. TOSS UP.

Nos. 11-21: California (Lean D), Kentucky (Lean R), Missouri (Lean R), Connecticut (Lean D), Alaska (Lean R), Florida (Lean R), New Hampshire (Lean R), Ohio (Lean R), Delaware (Probable D), North Carolina (Probable R), Louisiana (Probable R).