Yep. That’s the way veteran political analyst Dan Balz characterizes the 2014 tussle between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan, Republican Thom Tillis, and Libertarian Sean Haugh:
[…] Republicans need to win a net of six seats to take control. Three states are considered almost certain to switch from Democrat to Republican: Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. It’s relatively easy to assume they will gain one or two. The debate is about how many more Republicans will win beyond that. They have plenty of options but their victories must come either by defeating Democratic incumbents in red states or picking off seats in blue or purple states that Obama and the Democrats have been winning in presidential elections.
To give some idea of the differences in current assessments of the outlook, the Upshot has published a chart summarizing what the six election forecasters say about 10 competitive Senate races (beyond Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia).
The Cook report listed nine of the 10 as toss-ups. Monkey Cage’s analysis listed only one as a tossup. The Upshot modeling counts seven toss-ups. Silver and Rothenberg each say there are six (and agree on what they are), while Sabato’s analysis lists five as too close to call.
Republicans feel confident for several reasons. First and perhaps most important, key contests will be fought on turf favorable to the GOP. They could win control of the Senate without ever having to win a state Mitt Romney lost in 2012.
To do that means they will have to overcome one serious obstacle: They must defeat incumbent Democrats in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. Their best chances appear to be in Arkansas and Louisiana. Alaska and North Carolina are more problematic. […]
Problematic? Hmmm. I thought this was going to be a slam dunk? Let’s see. Hagan has about $7 million more in the bank than Tillis. Tillis is having “base problems” — including a disgruntled Tea Party faction, a well-polling Libertarian, and THREE right-leaning write-in candidates. Every poll featuring the three major party candidates has Hagan on top. (Though, many of those leads are within the margin of error. )
In 2008, Hagan did not pull ahead of the incumbent Republican Dole until late August. The next round of polling, released at the end of this month, should give us a much clearer idea as to whether the state House speaker can replicate Hagan’s 2008 victory strategy.