It’s never a bad idea to lower expectations if you’re a politician. But this seems a bit pessimistic.
Republicans currently hold 47 seats in the upper chamber but see chances to bring a number of currently Democratic seats into GOP hands, such Nebraska and Virginia, where there’s a tight race to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).
“There are a number of places where we have opportunities for pick-ups, not many places where we have much chance of losing a seat,” McConnell said on the CNN program “State of the Union.”
“I think at the end of the day we are going to have a very narrow Senate one way or the other,” he added.
McConnell said Republicans expect to win Virginia and Massachusetts, where incumbent Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is facing a challenge from Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the typically blue state.
Brown is vulnerable in Massachusetts only because he is a Republican running in the most Democratic state in the union. I wouldn’t count on him holding his seat, even though polls show him even with Elizabeth Warren.
But the GOP has an excellent chance of knocking off incumbents in Montana (Tester) and Missouri (McCaskill). And two more open seats in Wisconsin and Nebraska see strong GOP candidates favored to win at this point.
Other states like the open race in Connecticut and Florida see Democrats with the advantage. But Florida especially might surprise on election day.
In short, McConnell may be right about a narrow majority, but I’d rate the chances of a GOP takeover considerably higher. Intrade has GOP odds at gaining control at 60%, but give the party a 75% chance of winning 50 seats — a clear majority if Romney wins and a GOP vice president is the tie breaker.
Hans Solo’s advice to Luke Skywalker is apropos here: “Great kid, don’t get cocky.”