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March 25th, 2004 - 8:54 am

Larry Sabato looks into the future, and finds that, “Suddenly, the Senate battle has gotten much more interesting.”

Here’s why:

As for the three open Republican [Senate] seats, Democrats have jumped out to an early lead in all of them. Our early-line guess is that the Democrats will win two of the three in the end, but a three-fer cannot be ruled out. Illinois is the Democrats’ best shot, followed by Colorado, with Oklahoma last but still very competitive. As always, we give a slight edge to just about any incumbent, whether a junior one (Lisa Murkowski) or a senior one (Tom Daschle). But both Murkowski and Daschle could be beaten, and they face tight contests.

Our loyal readers can add this up quickly: the GOP has an edge for control of the Senate, but it is not an overwhelmingly one anymore. Large gains for the GOP are now probably out of the question–unless Bush roars back in the fall. Even then, it’s hard to see the GOP total getting past 54 or 55.

Click and scroll for the latest on this Fall’s House and gubernatorial races, too. It’s gonna be a long, fun campaign season.