When you look at the early 2012 presidential battleground map, and then at the early 2012 Senate map, it’s striking how much overlap there is. Winner take all? The Democrats’ control of the Senate is already sitting on a knife’s edge. Consider: Florida, Ohio, and Virginia promise to be three of the most important presidential states next year, and all three could have competitive Senate races. (If Tim Kaine ends up running for Senate, Virginia will probably be next year’s most-watched Senate contest.) But those three aren’t alone: Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin could also have both competitive Senate and presidential states. In fact, the only battleground states that won’t have a potentially competitive Senate race in 2012 are these: Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina (of course, the Tar Heel State will probably have a competitive gubernatorial race).
As we’ve mentioned before, these three Southwestern states could end up deciding both the presidency and control of the Senate: Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Which ever party wins two of out those three will likely win the White House and the Senate. (And note: Of course, the likelihood of Arizona as a competitive Senate contest depends on whether someone like Gabby Giffords is able to run…). It guarantees that the third party outside groups (whether led by ex-leaders of the DSCC or Karl Rove and Crossroads) will be HEAVILY involved in all of those states, since BOTH the presidency and control of the Senate are at stake.