Republican Gov. John Hoeven seems to have an even clearer path to the Senate than he did against Byron Dorgan, now that it's an open seat. He posts 20-point-plus leads against all of his opposition, including the likeliest Democrat to get the nod: former AG and 2000 gubernatorial candidate Heidi Heitkamp. We're looking at a strongly Republican likely electorate here (with Barack Obama at 41/54 approval, and the Republican Party faring much better as a party than the Democrats (although still in crappy position, too): 39/53 for the GOP vs. 25/61 for the Dems). That means that performance is pretty much equal for all Dems, whether they're well-known (Ed Schultz) or up-and-coming but unknown (North Dakota Rural Development Director Jasper Schneider). With that in mind, Swing State Project is moving this race to "Likely Republican."
Hoeven may still be in for a bumpy ride, though, thanks to the same thing facing fellow level-headed midwestern Governor (and 'stache wearer) Terry Branstad: bubbling-over anger on the teabagging right and mistrust of his establishment, insufficiently tax-averse ways. While the Tea Partiers don't seem to have a particular primary opponent in mind, they're adamant that Hoeven won't be getting a free pass through the primary.
Democratic at-large Rep. Earl Pomeroy seems to have had the right idea in staying where he is, rather than going for the promotion. He's looking fairly secure against the GOP opposition (although below the symbolic 50% mark), leading Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer (a statewide official, but one who's lost twice to Pomeroy previously, and just announced today that he's going back for a third try) and his 2008 opponent (and current Senate candidate, although he might want to drop down to get out of Hoeven's way) Duane Sand by similar 20-point-plus margins. Insurance salesman Paul Schaffner is also in the GOP primary, and state Rep. Rick Berg and Fargo city commissioner Dave Piepkorn are also weighing the race.