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Dems' Senate Hopes Rising

SurveyUSA has just released the latest job approval ratings for U.S. Senators, and there is some cause for Democratic optimism. Here are the Senate Seats to be contested next year, accompanied by the most recent job approval ratings for the incumbents:

Job Approval Ratings for 14 Democrats Up for Re-election in '06

Daniel Akaka (HI) 56%
Jeff Bingaman (NM) 59%
Robert Byrd (WV) 65%
Maria Cantwell (WA) 47%
Tom Carper (DE) 66%
Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) 61%
Kent Conrad (ND) 69%
Dianne Feinstein (CA) 54%
Edward Kennedy (MA) 61%
Herb Kohl (WI) 55%
Joe Lieberman (CT) 68%
Ben Nelson (NE) 63%
Bill Nelson (FL) 48%
Debbie Stabenow (MI) 46%

Job Approval Ratings for 14 Republicans Up for Re-Election in '06

George Allen (VA) 52%
Conrad Burns (MT) 48%
Lincoln Chafee (RI) 55%
Mike DeWine (OH) 42%
John Ensign (NV) 53%
Orrin Hatch (UT) 55%
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) 57%
Jon Kyl (AZ) 49%
Trent Lott (MS) 60%
Richard Lugar (IN) 59%
Rick Santorum (PA) 42%
Olympia Snowe (ME) 77%
Jim Talent (MO) 48%
Craig Thomas (WY) 60%

5 Open Senate Seats Up for Election in '06

Democratic (MD)
Democratic (MN)
Democratic (NJ)
Republican (TN)
Independent (VT)

Only 3 of the 14 Democratic incumbents up for re-election in '06 scored less than 50 percent job approval: Maria Cantwell; Bill Nelson and Debbie Stabenow. But 5 Republican incumbents running next year scored less than 50 percent job approval: Conrad Burns; Mike Dewine; John Kyl; Rick Santorum; and Jim Talent. Only 4 Dems scored under 55% job approval, compared with 7 Republicans. Democrats do have more "open" seats to hold (4 compared to 1), but they are fielding strong candidates in these races. For up to date wrap-ups of the campaigns for these open seats, check out the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website, and click on the individual races in the "open seats" section.