|IN-Sen: Evan Bayh is beloved in this state. I've heard liberals and conservatives alike talk about how great he is -- it's the darnedest thing. Plus, he's sitting on $12 million, which is what happens when you don't seriously challenge a guy for twelve years. State Sen. Martin Stutzman and former Rep. John Hostettler aren't going to give Bayh much of a scare. Rep. Mike Pence could pose a stiffer challenge, but it's not at all clear that he's going to pull the trigger. Even if Pence did run, the smart money would still be on Bayh; his iconic status and unbelievable warchest would make him difficult to beat even in the best of electoral climates for Republicans. Prediction: Likely Dem hold.
IN-01: Exhibit A in the GOP's recruiting woes saga in this state. Rep. Pete Visclosky is embroiled in scandal and being investigated by the FBI, and even though it's a deep-blue district, the Republicans should put up a Joe Cao-like candidate in case Visclosky's legal troubles worsen. So far, all they've been able to manage is frequent candidate and carpenter Mark Leyva, last seen getting pasted by Visclosky last cycle...and the cycle before...and the one before that...and the one before that. Yes, Leyva has been the Republican nominee against Visclosky four consecutive times, and is trying for his fifth -- a situation roughly analogous to that in IN-09. Leyva's best showing was 32% back in 2004, so there's nothing going on in this district unless someone else steps up. Prediction: safe Dem hold.
IN-02: Rep. Joe Donnelly is always afraid he's going to lose this red seat, but he just keeps getting lucky. The GOP's infamous recruiting failure here last cycle resulted in their hand-picked candidate, Luke Puckett, nearly losing the primary to a neo-Nazi sympathizer en route to getting steamrolled 67-30 by Donnelly. Republicans put some muscle into getting a better recruit this time, but the candidate they got, State Rep. Jackie Wilarski, is scarcely better than Puckett. Given the national climate and the district's lean, this seat should be the Republicans' for the taking, but "Wacky Jackie" isn't going to cut the mustard. Unless someone else steps up for the Republicans, Donnelly only loses in a 70-seat landslide. Prediction: likely Dem hold.
IN-03: The Democrats have a better candidate in this race than they have any right to expect given the national mood and the hard-right lean of the district: Tom Hayhurst, a medical doctor and former Fort Wayne City Councilman. Hayhurst came shockingly close to beating Rep. Mark Souder back in 2006, garnering 46% of the vote despite a complete lack of national Democratic support. Had he made his second try in a better year for Democrats -- for instance, in 2008 -- Hayhurst might have had a shot at this seat. As it is, the national Democrats will have too many incumbents to defend to bother with a long-shot race like this one, and Souder righted his sputtering campaign machine in a convincing 2008 win over 28-year-old attorney Michael Montagano. Souder has to be heavily favored to win both his primary against former congressional aide Phil Troyer and Paulist Rachel Grubb, and the general election against Hayhurst. If Grubb or Troyer somehow beat Souder in the primary, however, Hayhurst might have a chance. Prediction: likely GOP hold.
IN-04: Last cycle, attorney Nels Ackerson briefly posed a serious challenge to Rep. Steve Buyer before completely imploding on the campaign trail. This year, no one is even bothering to run against the well-funded and effective Buyer. Prediction: safe GOP hold.
IN-05: In the most conservative district in Indiana, the only question is which of the ten thousand conservative Republicans running -- including incumbent Rep. Dan Burton -- will be on hand to steamroll cancer physician Nasser Hanna in the general election. Prediction: safe GOP hold.
IN-06: This district, represented by arch-conservative Rep. Mike Pence, is actually somewhat interesting in that it's the most moderate district in Indiana currently represented by a Republican -- more so than IN-03, which was seriously in play during the past two cycles. Pence's personal popularity and influence in Washington has kept it safe for him, but with rumors that he'll be moving up to Senate or Presidential races soon (either this cycle or next), there would seem to be an opening here for a popular and/or well-funded Democrat. On the other hand, the complete lack of Dem candidates running for the seat this cycle -- exactly zero last time I checked -- indicates that this isn't the year to bank on a pickup here. Prediction: safe GOP hold.
IN-07: Republicans used to do well in this district because the incumbent, former Rep. Julia Carson, was too ill to campaign. When her grandson Andre trounced the most popular Republican in the district by 13 points in a 2007 special election, the GOP realized those days were over. The Republicans aren't even trying this cycle; college professor Marvin Scott, last seen getting 38% of the vote against Evan Bayh in 2004, won't pose much of a threat to Carson. Prediction: safe Dem hold.
IN-08: The "bloody Eighth" stopped being bloody after wildly popular sheriff Brad Ellsworth beat Rep. John Hostettler by 24 points back in 2006. The Republicans might have a shot at this seat given the national climate, but Ellsworth is so popular that no serious candidate has stepped up thus far. Hostettler would rather make a kamikaze run against Evan Bayh than face Ellsworth again, and cardiologist Larry Bucshon won't even make Ellsworth break a sweat. Prediction: safe Dem hold.
IN-09: This is the main show in Indiana this cycle, and it's one residents of the district have seen four times before. Get ready for the fifth installment of Rep. Baron Hill vs. former Rep. Mike Sodrel. Hill is 3-1 in their previous matchups, including a 20-point pasting of Sodrel in 2008 (all three of the other races were very close). A new poll, however, shows Sodrel beating Hill by eight points if the election were held today. I don't doubt that people in this district are fed up with Hill -- his milquetoast campaign style has failed to make him as entrenched as Ellsworth is in the neighboring district -- but I really can't see them voting for Sodrel after they basically told him to take his ball and go home just fourteen months ago. If Sodrel wins his primary against attorney Todd Young and teabagger Travis Hankins, I'd have to say Hill is favored to win reelection. It's just as likely, though, that the establishment candidate Young will beat the more conservative Sodrel, and if that happens, Hill's toast. Since Hill wants to run for governor in 2012, he might also decide to bail on this race; in that case, term-limited Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, who's been trying to build a national profile lately, might run for the seat, but he's too liberal for the district and would be heavily outgunned by either Sodrel or Young. On balance, I'd give the slight advantage to the Republicans here. Prediction: tossup.
Seats in order of likelihood of flipping: IN-09, IN-Sen, IN-02, IN-03, IN-01, IN-07, IN-06, IN-08, IN-05, IN-04.
Predicted outcome: Republicans pick up IN-09, Burton loses to another Republican in IN-04, all other seats stay in the same hands (I'm least sanguine about IN-09, and wouldn't count Dems out yet).