Congressional Quarterly’s latest ratings on Minnesota races

On Thursday, Congressional Quarterly updated its ratings of all the congressional races in the country. None of the three Minnesota House districts currently held by Republicans are rated as “safe Republican” seats, but the redness of each of the three is rated at a different level of danger.

CQ rates the hot race for the Jim Ramstad seat in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District as a toss-up (CQ actually calls this category “no clear favorite”). This rating is consistent with what the national punditocracy has felt about Erik Paulsen vs. Ashwin Madia race all year.

Because Michele Bachmann was tricked by Chris Matthews on “Hardball” into expressing her concerns about Barack Obama possible anti-Americanness, and the subsequent seven-figure flood of dollars to her Dem opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, Bachmann’s chances of being reelected have been downgraded. But, unlike the Cook Political Report which has Bachmann-Tinklenberg in the toss-up category, CQ rates the race as “leans Republican,” which is the least safe category after “no clear favorite.”

In the next circle of risk, where CQ puts races where the incumbent is not quite safe but not in much danger, two more Minnesotans are listed. Democrat Tim Walz of the 1st District and Republican John Kline of the 2nd  are “favored” but not safe.

That leaves the other four Minnesota congressfolks, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Jim Oberstar and Collin Peterson, all Democrats, in the “safe” category.

Nationally, to give you an idea of the likely range of Dem pickups on Nov. 4, CQ has six seats currently held by Republicans as leaning to the Dems, but only one currently Dem seat that leans Republican. In addition, CQ has 17 seats currently held by Republicans, versus six currently held by Democrats, rated as “no clear favorite. It wouldn’t take much of a Dem tide to give the Dems a roughly 20-seat pickup.

If you’re thinking tsunami, 23 Republican-held seats are currently rated as “leans Republican” (this is the group that includes Bachmann) while 13 Dem-held seats are rated as “leans Democratic.”

Lastly but not leastly, on the Senate side, CQ has Minnesota’s Coleman-Franken race as one of four toss-ups. All four are seats currently held by Republicans. In addition, CQ believes that the Virginia race to replace the retiring Republican John Warner is “safe Democratic,” that the New Mexico seat to replace the retiring Republican Pete Domenici is “Democrat favored,” and that three more Senate seats currently held by Republicans (in Alaska, Colorado and New Hampshire) “lean Democratic.” So, if the Dems won all the seats where they are currently ahead by at least a lean, they would pick up five seats, with a shot at four more (including Coleman’s seat) in the toss-up category. A complete sweep of the nine seats would give the Dems a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority.

According to the trend line of recent polls maintained by pollster.com, the Democratic candidate is ahead in three of the four CQ toss-up races (Minnesota, North Carolina and Oregon) but not in the fourth (the Roger Wicker-Ronnie Musgrove race in Mississippi). So, if the Dems won every race in which they now have a lead (however small), they would pick up eight Senate seats and end up with a 59-41 majority.

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