Polling guru says Colorado Senate seat more likely to switch parties

Tagging the contenders “an underwhelming field all around,” FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver lists the Colorado Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet as the seventh-most-likely seat to change hands in the 2010 election . Silver’s August rankings reflect a “fairly major shakeup,” he says, adding that 10 seats — including Bennet’s — are more likely to switch parties than they were a month ago. His overall snapshot:

While there are still plenty of opportunities for the Democrats in the Senate, I believe that the Republicans are now slightly more likely to gain seats than to lose them, potentially threatening the Democrats’ supposed filibuster-proof majority.

Even though Bennet has amassed a fortune in campaign funds since his January appointment to fill Ken Salazar’s seat, Silver says the relative obscurity of the whole field means national trends — favoring Republicans these days — could make the difference.

7. Colorado (D-Bennet)
An underwhelming field all around in Colorado; nominal incumbent Michael Bennet has a net-negative approval rating, but his most likely Republican opponents aren’t liked any better. A race like this is likely to be determined by national factors, rather than local ones, and right now those factors are looking much improved for Republicans, especially in a state where Obama’s approval ratings have been poor relative to his election-day performance.

Bennet’s seat was in seventh place last month too, when Silver called it “effectively an open-seat race,” but an added upward-pointing arrow indicates Silver thinks it’s more likely to switch now than it was a month ago. Considered a safe seat when Salazar held it, Silver’s rankings have moved Bennet’s prospects steadily up the chart since March, when the Colorado seat only ranked 11th in likelihood of switching parties.

Bennet’s potential opponents include Republicans Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney; Ryan Frazier, an Aurora city councilman; Bob Beauprez, a former congressman and failed candidate for governor; Tom Wiens, a former state senator; and businessman Cleve Tidwell.

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