By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
ALL OVER THE MAP. As Democratic prospects for holding onto the Senate have improved, the same can’t be said for Democratic chances to hold their majority in the House. With just over two weeks to go, here’s our fresh look at the electoral map: In the Senate, Democratic candidates look stronger in Pennsylvania (we’ve moved the race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up”), Delaware, Connecticut and West Virginia. The one place where Republicans look better is Missouri. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pulled out most of its advertising dollars there and is instead pouring more cash into Nevada. We have moved Missouri from “Toss Up” to “Lean Republican.”
Bottom line: The path to the majority runs through Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington state, California, and Connecticut. For Republicans to win the Senate they need to win 7 of these 9 states. Right now, Republican chances look best in Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois and West Virginia. After that, Washington state looks to be the most vulnerable Democratic-held seat. Public polls show Sen. Patty Murray with a significant lead, but private polling shows the race tighter. In fact, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a poll showing the race tied. Plus, this state has proven to be volatile in wave-years. And while Pennsylvania is now a “Toss Up,” Democrat Joe Sestak still has a tough road ahead. Republicans are feeling more confident about California and are pumping over $1 million into that race. Of course, $1 million doesn’t go all that far in the state’s pricey media markets.
In the House, there has been some tightening in many key races, but it’s not enough to make Democrats feel all that much better. There are still far too many Democratic incumbents under 50 percent in the polls. Republicans continue to enjoy an “enthusiasm advantage” among voters. And, outside groups are helping Republicans expand the playing field by pouring money into previously ignored districts. Political prognosticators like Charlie Cook see the prospects for Democratic losses to be worse than 1994, when they lost 52 seats.
Bottom line: We now list 196 seats where the Republican is favored and 195 seats where the Democrat is favored. This means that Democrats need to win 23 seats to hold onto the majority, while Republicans would need to win 22 seats. But don’t forget: Democrats have many more vulnerable seats to defend than Republicans do. Democrats have 42 seats in "Toss-Up" and 21 seats that "Lean Republican." Meanwhile, Republicans have just 2 seats in "Toss Up" and 2 seats. Of the 124 competitive Congressional districts (those listed as leaning or toss-up), 59 — or nearly half — come from the region that stretches from Maine to the Mississippi. Of the 44 “Toss Up” seat, Obama carried just 10 with 55 percent or more of the vote while Sen. John McCain won 20 of these Congressional districts in 2008.
NOTED: Making matters worse for Democrats, they were outraised in roughly 40 Congressional Districts, according to recent fundraising numbers. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is being forced to spend in places like Arizona’s 7th Congressional district (Rep. Raul Grijalva) and California’s 20th Congressional district (Rep. Jim Costa), which suggests that the field of vulnerable seats continues expand.
Check out ABC’s House, Senate and governor’s race maps: http://bit.ly/cRwPpH
GOING WEST. The action among high-profile surrogates on the campaign trail takes a decidedly Western tilt this week as top Democrats and Republicans spend much of their time in states like California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. For Democrats, the focus is on three key Senators who are trying to keep their jobs: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa. President Obama will hit all four states, plus two — Maryland and Minnesota — in what will be a dizzying week of travel. On Wednesday the president heads to Oregon to campaign for gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber, then it’s on to Seattle on Thursday for a rally with Sen. Murray. Stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles follow. He’s in the Bay Area for a DNC dinner and in L.A. for events on behalf of Sen. Boxer. Finally it’s on to Las Vegas to campaign for Sen. Reid and to attend events for the DNC and DSCC. Stops in Pennsylvania and Maryland will book-end Vice President Joe Biden’s week, but in between he will also hit Washington state, California and Nevada to campaign for Murray, Boxer and Reid. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will also campaign together in Western states this week. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin kicks of a Tea Party Express pre-election tour in Reno, Nevada today. (Palin spent the weekend rallying voters in California.) The Tea Party Express “Liberty at the Ballot Box Tour” will travel across the country over the next two weeks and end its journey in Concord, N.H.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. Together again: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned together for the first time since the 2008 presidential race on Sunday. The couple headlined fundraisers in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, but the main event was a rally that drew an estimated 35,000 at Ohio State University. ABC’s Tahman Bradley reports: “The rally was aimed at the young voters who supported Obama for president in 2008 by a lopsided margin. Democrats hope young voters recapture their enthusiasm to perhaps help boost the party’s chances in November’s midterm election. ‘We need you fired up,’ President Obama said. Michelle Obama told the crowd that President Obama cares deeply about changing the country and making life better for the next generation, something she cares very much about as a mom, and that’s what motivates her to make the rounds on the stump. … Acknowledging Democrats are in a rough fight this election, the president told the young audience their vote can make a difference this year just as it helped two years ago. ‘In little more than two weeks you can set the direction of this state and the direction of this country not just the next two years but for the next five years, the next 10 years, the next 20 years,’ he said. ‘Just like you did in 2008, you can defy the conventional wisdom.’” http://bit.ly/9iwMlX
UNDER THE RADAR. Although the spotlight this year is on the battle for control of Congress, ABC’s Rick Klein points out the “stealth issue in the 2010 elections” — redistricting. The every-ten-year redrawing of the electoral map has “taken on an added political dimension this time around,” Klein reports. “The likely changes in congressional representation are intensifying national attention on gubernatorial and state legislative contests in states such as Texas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The first two states are poised to be big winners in the reapportionment of House districts, while the latter two appear likely to lose seats. Beyond that, ballot initiatives in several states — most notably California and Florida — could have long-lasting implications on how new voting districts are drawn in 2011 and beyond. ‘It's really about power and who has it — and the lengths that they're willing to go to keep people from getting it,’ said Jeff Reichert, a filmmaker who's out with a new documentary, ‘Gerrymandering,’ that explores the politicization of the redistricting process.” http://bit.ly/9iwMlX And hear more from Reichert on today’s edition of “Top Line.”
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Jonathan Karl interviews Nevada Senate Tea Party Candidate Scott Ashjian, who is trying to make a stand against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republican Sharron Angle. Though recent polls indicate Ashjian might only draw a tiny fraction of the votes on Election Day, GOP officials are remain worried that his presence on the ballot could drain votes from Angle in what looks like an extremely tight race. Also on “Top” line, ABC's Rick Klein has a conversation with Jeff Reichert, director of the new political documentary, “Gerrymandering,” which aims to shine a bright light on redistricting. Check out the trailer: http://bit.ly/Q03Gn Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
THE BOEHNER MINUTE. House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is up with a new Web video today highlighting what has become a major Republican talking point: “Where are the jobs?” Boehner spokesman Michael Steele e-mails: “This video shows how Boehner and Republicans have successfully made ‘where are the jobs?’ part of the national lexicon and turned it into a potent weapon against out-of-touch Washington Democrats on the most important issue Americans are concerned about.” http://bit.ly/aTR6NK
LONELY IN OHIO. Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus who was one of the candidates the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently cut off, told Politics Daily’s Walter Shapiro that the DCCC’s decision “has awakened the base” and declared “we're going to see this through and we're going to win.” Driehaus is in a tough rematch against Republican Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st district. On Saturday, he spoke at an AFL-CIO event “After Driehaus spoke to the AFL-CIO rally (‘Commercials don't get me elected, it's the men and women in this room busting their ass who got me elected’), I chatted with Robert Sturdevant, who was there as the chief labor delegate from the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. ‘Driehaus is fighting an uphill battle all the time,’ Sturdevant said. ‘This race is a good microcosm of how much labor can bring to an off-year election.’” http://bit.ly/9dIUR8
THE NUMBER: $1 Million-Plus
The amount that Democrats have raised from political action committees afflicted with foreign companies, according to an analysis by The Hill and the Center for Responsive Politics. More from The Hill’s Michael O'Brien and Hayleigh Colombo: “The PACS are funded entirely by contributions from U.S. employees of subsidiaries of foreign companies. All of the contributions are made public under Federal Elections Commission rules, and the PACs affiliated with the subsidiaries of foreign corporations are governed by the same rules that American firms' PACs or other PACs would face.” http://bit.ly/9xxGH8
@HowardKurtz: If Andrew Cuomo has a 59-24 lead over Carl Paladino, does that mean the national media can stop trumpeting every wild Paladino comment?
MORE DEBATES. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will be in Illinois on Tuesday to co-moderate a Senate debate between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. And George heads to Pennsylvania on Wednesday to moderate a match-up between Republican Pat Toomey and Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who are vying for Senate. The debates will be streamed live on ABCNews.com and on our ABC News Facebook page, Facebook.com/abcnews In the meantime, send your questions for the Illinois Senate candidates: http://bit.ly/aSrask
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