PA Senate Race Overtaken by… New Jersey

After months at number 18 in the National Journal’s rankings of the most competitive U.S. Senate races in the country, Pennsylvania has dropped a spot. Overtaking the Tom Smith v. Sen. Bob Casey contest? New Jersey.

Wrote the National Journal:

We haven’t seen a lot out of GOP businessman Tom Smith lately. Casey is cruising toward a second term, and the fact that Mitt Romney’s team isn’t seriously contesting Pennsylvania is just another nail in Smith’s coffin.

Maybe that’s why Smith’s latest television attack ad doesn’t mention Obama’s name once, when connecting Casey with the President had been such a major effort by the candidate in previous months.

Casey has led the race by double digits in most polls, about twice the margin by which Obama leads Romney.

And then there’s Smith’s appearance at the Pa. Press Club in late August. He inadvertently compared pregnancy by rape to pregnancy out of wedlock and was promptly rebuked by Democrats and Republicans.

Here’s another factor to watch: Rayburn Smith. The retired postal worker from Clarion County is presently on the ballot as a Libertarian, pending a court challenge. He just won his first court battle (his petitions were challenged alongside those of presidential candidate Gary Johnson). Rayburn Smith may yet get tossed from the ballot, but right now the odds favor him.

If you’re a candidate who’s starting from scratch on name ID like Tom Smith, how would you like to have to contend with someone else with your last name on the ballot? Against a Casey?

Here’s the National Journal’s writeup on New Jersey’s race:

State Sen. Joe Kyrillos started off strong, but he’s been largely under the radar since a big first fundraising quarter. It would take a wave election and a ton of negative attention focused on Menendez for the Republican to pull off an upset; he’s not benefiting from either right now.

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