The Democrats haven’t found a good candidate in North Carolina, while Republicans, so far, have struck out in Colorado and Washington.
The outcome of primaries could shape several contests. Democrats believe that if their preferred candidates emerge in Pennsylvania and Florida, they have a good chance of taking Republican-held seats. And if Senator John McCain gets roughed up by a right-wing challenger in Arizona, that general election could become competitive.
The marquee race may be New Hampshire, where Kelly Ayotte, the incumbent Republican senator and former state attorney general, faces the two-term Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan. That means Granite Staters won’t be ignored by the rest of the country after the Feb. 9 presidential primary.
In the fall, the presidential race, with so many independent-minded ticket splitters, may have only minimal impact. There is broad agreement that if a Republican wins the presidency there is almost no way the Democrats could take back the Senate. Conversely, if a Democratic candidate scores a double-digit win, there’s little chance Republicans could hold their majority.