10 of the closest statewide races heading into Election 2010

Election 2010 has no shortage of nail-biters. According to The Cook Political Report, eight Senate races and – amazingly – 17 gubernatorial races remain toss-ups. While this list leaves off a few of those (the Senate races in Washington, Alaska, and Kentucky, for instance), here’s what’s going on in 10 of the closest statewide elections:

10. Illinois Senate

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/File
Mark Kirk (l.) and Alexi Giannoulias

Talk about a symbolic seat for both parties: In Illinois, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Rep. Mark Kirk are battling it out for President Obama’s old Senate seat.

It’s a crucial one for both parties, and though both candidates have mounted vigorous – and nasty – campaigns, neither has been able to open up any space from the other in the polls.

Most recently, Congressman Kirk, a moderate, has been slightly ahead of Mr. Giannoulias, the state treasurer. But with a large portion of Illinois voters still undecided, the 2- to 3-point edge doesn’t mean a lot.

The race so far has largely focused on character: Giannoulias keeps pointing out the ways in which Kirk, a former Navy officer, misrepresented his military experience. Kirk, meanwhile, has attacked Giannoulias for his mismanagement of his family’s bank.

The negative campaign may be one reason so many Illinois voters are both unenthusiastic and unable to make a decision, and the victory is likely to
come down to who is better at getting people to the polls.

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