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State of Play: How are the US Senate mid-terms looking?

Very good. If you’re a Republican.

WITH JUST 38 days left until America goes to the polls, the stakes for Barack Obama are high – and getting higher.

Despite an economy bouncing back from one of the deepest recessions in history, Obama himself has just a 42% job approval rating.

As the US tentatively enters another war, their third in 13 years, Obama is struggling to keep a rein on a number of domestic issues.

Losing the US upper house, the Senate, to the Republican Party on 4 November would essentially turn Obama’s last two years as Commander in Chief into a frustrating cycle. The Republicans have shown little willingness to work with him in the House, so there is no reason to think that they would be any more willing in the Senate.

UN Security Council Obama Source: AP/Press Association Images

That’s the context, but the bad news for Obama? Republicans taking the Senate is the most likely scenario.

Most polling models put the GOP in the stronger position to take the 51 seats required to control the upper house.

Pollsters reckon that just eight of the races are still toss ups, with four still in play.

That means that Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansa, New Hampshire and North Carolina could go either way, while Michigan and Minnesota lean to the Democrats and Kentucky and Louisiana lean to the Republicans.

Midnight train

Michelle Obama Georgia Michelle Obama has been campaigning for Michelle Nunn Source: David Goldman

The Georgia race, where David Perdue is taking on Democrat Michelle Nunn for an open seat, could be a bell-weather of everything that will happen on the first Tuesday of November.

Until 2003, the state had two Democratic senators, but the party has since lost both those seats. Now, Nunn is looking to take back a seat held by her father.

The campaign hasn’t been easy. A leaked internal memo in July mapped out what Nunn’s problems with the electorate were, called her “lightweight” and “too liberal”.

However, she has extended the olive branch to Republicans, emphasising a bipartisan message, something that may help her claw back the three and half point lead that Perdue holds.

Arguing the toss-ups

The problem for the Democrats is that of those toss-ups, just two are Republican seats, meaning that the Democrats have more to lose. Many of those states, it bears reminding, backed Mitt Romney in 2012.

What that means is that, according to FiveThirtyEight, the Republicans have a 57.5% likelihood of taking the Senate.

While that is in no way an insurmountable gap for the Dems to bridge, it will be a tough five weeks for Obama and company.

Read: Explainer: What is happening with the US mid-term elections?

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