With so much focus on the Presidential race, the individual state Senate races have faded into the background. But just who controls the U.S. Senate might be as important as who sits in the Oval Office come next January. Most experts agree there are eleven state races up for grabs next Tuesday: Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The GOP has 43 seats not up for re-election or “safe” in this year’s election. The Democrats have 46 seats in those categories. Each side is looking to get to a magic number of 51 to have a majority.

A little bit of research and prediction simplifies things by shrinking the toss-ups states down to just four states. Looking at up to date polling data, we can assume Connecticut will be a win for the Democrats with Murphy holding a five point lead on McMahon. Pennsylvania is likely to swing blue as well, as Casey holds an average lead of five points over Smith. And while the Massachusetts race has had wild swings, it looks like Warren’s six point lead over Brown will hold. That gives the Dems 49 seats.

The Republicans look solid in Nevada as Heller is carrying a five-point lead over Berkley. Flake seems to be holding off Carmona in Arizona, keeping that state Red. North Dakota looks to be a seat for the GOP, with Berg up six over Heitkamp. And Indiana, even with the recent abortion controversy, appears to be a win for the Republicans with Mourdock up five on Donnelly. If these predictions are accurate, the GOP adds four seats to sit at 47.

That leaves the states of Montana, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Ironic that the latter three of these states are also playing a huge part in who wins the Presidential election. Montana is anybody’s guess as Rehberg (R) and Tester (D) are all even in most polls at 48%. Ohio has seen each side hold 2-point leads, but now the Republican challenger Mandel and the Democratic incumbent Brown currently tied at 49%. Kaine (D) is leading Allen (R) by one point 49%-48% in Virginia with both sides expecting a boost from whoever wins their state for President. In Wisconsin, Republican Thompson is holding off Democrat Baldwin by a slim 2 points – a race that could also be impacted by the Obama-Romney battle.

There are three final scenarios for who would control the Senate and they are impacted by who wins the White House. If Obama wins re-election, the Dems would only need to win one of those four true toss-up Senate races. VP Joe Biden would cast the tie-breaking vote if there were a 50-50 split. If the Republicans win all four and Obama wins re-election, the President would face an even tougher road the next four years as the GOP would control both houses of Congress.

If Romney wins the election, the Republicans would only need to win three of the four races as Paul Ryan would cast the tie-breaking vote. There would no need to pick up all four seats. That would give the GOP the White House and both houses of Congress – a perfect scenario for an incoming president.

It will be an uphill battle for the Republicans to pick up enough seats to get control, but with Romney riding a wave of momentum lately, you never know what might happen in these state races. If the Presidential race is uncertain five days out, these Senate races are even more of a question. Don’t expect an answer Tuesday night either – it might take until mid-day on Wednesday before we know the final results.

Original article authored by Dave Dorsey on RightChange.com

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