Ratings Changes in WV, FL, NV, & WI Senate races

August 9, 2010 · 2:47 PM EDT

West Virginia (Open; Goodwin, D) -- Add as Democrat Favored

Senator Robert Byrd’s death has created a special election to fill the remaining two years of his term. Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin is likely to win his party’s nomination in the August 28 primary, while businessman/former state GOP chairman John Raese and attorney Mac Warner are expected to battle it out for the Republican nomination.

Manchin has won two blow-out elections for governor, so he begins as the obvious favorite in the Senate race. But news that federal investigators had subpoenaed two state government agencies certainly adds some spice to the race, and even a popular Democratic officeholder like Manchin has some reason to worry being on the ballot for federal office in November.

The eventual Republican nominee has plenty to prove, but any federal investigation that raises questions about decisions made in the governor’s office could grow into a problem for Manchin.

Florida (Open; Lemieux, R) – Move from Toss-up/Tilt Republican to Toss-up

Polling continues to show Gov. Charlie Crist holding onto a slight lead over Republican Marco Rubio, with the Democratic nominee (either Kendrick Meek or Jeff Greene) running a distant third. While Crist could still lose support from both Republicans and Democrats after the primary and when the fall campaign engages in September, his ability to hang onto his lead is worth noting. Because of that – as well as questions about the appeal of the eventual democratic nominee – we are moving this race to Toss-up.

Nevada (Reid, D) – Move from Toss-up/Tilt Republican to Toss-up

Republican Sharron Angle’s inept campaign has allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) to crawl back into this race. Angle has made goofs, but some Republicans are even more concerned about Angle’s campaign advisors. Savvy observers specifically identify her campaign manager as a problem, saying that he is “clueless” or primarily concerned with “protecting his turf.”

Angle and her “team” have now taken this race from a likely victory to a Toss-up, which is where we are now moving the race.

Wisconsin (Feingold, D) – Move from Toss-up/Tilt Democrat to Toss-up

Republican Ron Johnson continues to perform well in polling. Even if the challenger isn’t doing as well as some GOP surveys suggest, it’s clear that Sen. Russ Feingold’s quirky outsider image has started to lose its luster. Johnson’s straight-talking businessman/outsider persona fits the cycle perfectly, which makes this contest a pure Toss-up.