Fisher's Small Lead Over Portman Makes Ohio Democrats' Best Chance for a Senate Pick Up

Ohio Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has been receiving a string of good news from Quinnipiac polling lately. Yesterday, they released a poll showing that Fisher has pulled into a commanding lead over his primary opponent, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, ahead of the May 4th primary (Fisher 41% – Brunner 24%). And today Quinnipiac is out with another poll showing Fisher with a three-point lead over Republican Rob Portman. Fisher has 40% of the vote, while Portman currently has 37%, with 21% undecided.

At this point, the open Ohio Senate race should be designated a toss-up. The polling is effectively tied and either candidates has a legitimate chance of taking the seat. Since it is an open race and none of the candidates is currently serving in Congress, it is also unlikely that a general anti-incumbent mood will have a strong impact one way or the other.

It is telling, though, that this basically fifty-fifty toss up is Democrats current best hope of picking up a Senate seat currently held by a Republican. Democrats also have a respectable shot at winning in Missouri, and in a chaotic three-way race in Florida, where an independent Gov. Charlie Crist could provide Kendrick Meek with a potential path to victory. North Carolina, Kentucky, and even Arizona (on the off chance J.D. Hayworth manages to beat or completely cripple John McCain) are possible, but not likely, Democratic pick ups.

The problem for Democrats is that there is currently not a single Senate seat held by Republicans that is even a "lean Democratic" at this moment. This is why 2010 is shaping up to be such a bad year for Democrats--because they have few likely wins to balance out expected losses. Democrats are going to need to do a good job defending a wide field of seats, and even with that, there are a few seats, like North Dakota, that seem lost already.

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