Five Senate races to watch

The political turmoil of 2010 has led to a number of close Senate races, with control of the upper chamber possibly in the balance. Here are five of the closest, most interesting, hardest-fought Senate races of this election cycle.

By , Contributor

1. California: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) and Carly Fiorina (R)

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    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), left, and Carly Fiorina are neck-and neck in the California Senate race. Boxer is touting her three terms of Senate service, while Fiorina is highlighting her corporate experience as the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
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Ms. Boxer’s approval ratings have slid in 2010 along with most other Democratic senators, and her work on a potential cap and trade bill made her seat particularly enticing for Republicans. They nominated Ms. Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, to run against Boxer, painting Fiorina’s corporate experience as the perfect antidote to perceived out-of-control spending in Washington, personified by Boxer. It also didn’t hurt that Fiorina has a hefty personal fortune to fall back on if she were to need more campaign cash.

Fiorina has stayed true to conservative policy planks she outlined during her primary run, but she may have hit a wall in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican senator since 1988. Fiorina steadily closed the gap in the polls between her and Boxer through the spring and early summer, but has not been able to take the lead, except in a few scattered polls. Still, Boxer’s favorable ratings are lower than her unfavorable ratings, a bad sign for an incumbent in a tight race.

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