While student groups are feverishly campaigning in efforts to edge their political opponents on Nov. 7, Democrats and Republicans are both looking to Tennessee as a proving ground for the future of the U.S. Senate.
Both parties are pouring financial and human resources into Tennessee, along with battleground states Missouri, New Jersey and Virginia, to try to tip the Senate’s balance of power.
Polling data show Republicans are likely to lose several seats in the Senate, but just how many could be a matter of 11th-hour ad buys and get-out-the-vote initiatives.
In Tennessee, where former Republican Mayor Bob Corker and Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. are vying for the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., polls show a statistical dead heat.
Republicans are hoping Tennessee’s same-sex marriage amendment will energize their base to vote for Corker, but Democrats hang their hopes on a general attitude of distrust for the Republican-dominated Congress and President George W. Bush.
Recent polls show an exact tie in the Missouri Senate race, where Democrat Claire McCaskill is seeking to unseat incumbent Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo.
Turnout in Missouri could hinge on a ballot initiative that would ban embryonic stem cell research.
In Virginia, Democrat Jim Williams is in another statistical tie with incumbent Sen. George Allen.
Sen. Bob Menendez, N.J., is the only Democratic incumbent at significant risk of being unseated in the Nov. 7 elections; he is tied in polls with Republican challenger Tom Kean.
Democrats need to win three of the four battleground states to win control of the Senate.
While control of the Senate remains uncertain, many project Democrats to regain control of the House.
In Tennessee, Gov. Phil Bredesen continues to enjoy a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Jim Bryson.