Closest Senate Races in '90 Campaign

Here is what experts say about some of the most hard-fought Senate races: TOSSUPS Hawaii. Analysts expect this to go down to the wire but most say GOP Rep. Patricia Saiki has a slight edge on incumbent Daniel Akaka (D).

North Carolina. The key questions: Have voters tired of Sen. Jesse Helms's (R) wars against pornography, abortion, homosexuals, and communists? Are they ready for Harvey Gantt (D), the former mayor of Charlotte, whose top priority would be to cut defense and pump money into education and the environment?

Iowa. Sen. Tom Harkin (D) has led throughout this race but now languishes below 50 percent in the polls. If Rep. Tom Tauke (R) can keep nibbling away at Harkin's popularity, he could squeak by.

Rhode Island. Once called the GOP's best chance for an upset, the race pits Rep. Claudine Schneider (R) against Sen. Claiborne Pell (D). Schneider remains at least 6 points back, where she started the year. LEANS REPUBLICAN

Kentucky. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) has held his lead over Democrat Harvey Sloane. After a recent debate, Republicans speak more confidently about this state.

Oregon. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R), once expected to breeze back into office, has been caught in the anti-incumbent backlash. His 36-point lead over Democrat Harry Lonsdale fell to 6 points in a month after Lonsdale used personal funds to buy TV time. The budget crisis has left Hatfield little time to campaign. LEANS DEMOCRATIC

Massachusetts. Sen. John Kerry (D) seemed a shoo-in. But voters are rebellious. Kerry was stung by a TV ad sponsored by opponent James Rappaport (R) that links Kerry with the unpopular Gov. Michael Dukakis, with whom Kerry once served as lieutenant governor. An upset is possible.

Nebraska. Sen. Jim Exon (D) leads. But the GOP's registration advantage and anti-incumbent fervor could aid former Rep. Hal Daub (R). His TV ads late in the race could cut Exon's margin.

Michigan. Sen. Carl Levin (D), once thought endangered in 1990, has held a wide lead over Rep. Bill Schuette (R). In 1984, however, Levin fell far and fast in the final days, nearly losing. Experts say it could happen again if Schuette hits Levin on taxes and the death penalty.

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