Chris Dodd announced in January that he would not be seeking re-election for his Connecticut seat in the US Senate. That leaves an "Open Seat". In the US the "incumbency factor" has a much greater impact than in the UK. Individuals have to raise a much greater proportion of the funding for re-election than British MPs, where a significant amount of the funding comes from the Party. A long established Senator or Congressman can attract funds more easily than a challenger. So when the incumbent stands down, there can be a much greater opportunity for the other party to seize the seat.
The Senate seat is listed by The Cook Report as a "Toss Up". The categories used by Cook are "Solid Democratic/Republican"; "Likely Democratic/Republican"; "Lean Democratic/Republican" and "Toss Up". Of the 19 seats currently held by the Democrats, 9 are listed as "Toss Up"; 3 Leaning Republican and 1 Solid Republican. 2 Republican seats are "Toss Up"
The State of Connecticut is the highest-income state in the US, but has consistently backed the Democrats in recent Presidential Elections - and in The Senate, Dodd has represented the State since 1980, while Joe Lieberman has been the Junior Senator since 1988. He was the Democrat Vice Presidential Candidate in 2000, but has been an Independent since losing the Democratic Primary in 2006. He remains a registered Democrat and caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.
But the Governor of Connecticut is a Republican. Jodi Rell is up for re-election and her race is also seen as a toss up.
The Senate Candidates are Richard Blumenthal (Democrat) - website - and Linda McMahon (Republican), former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO. - website.
House races in Connecticut will also be of national interest. First time Congressman Jim Himes' district CT04 - is listed as "Leaning Democrat". He represents a district which runs from the New York outskirts along the coast of Long Island Sound. It includes Stamford and Bridgeport. These are the centres of Democrat support - while areas dominated by wealthy commuters to New York provide a base for the Republicans.
Christopher Murphy in the 5th District is also vulnerable. He has served two terms, but was an architect of the healthcare legislation. Cook was listing the seat - which covers the North West of the State and includes Danbury and Waterbury - as "Leaning Democrat", but an October poll commissioned by the website CT Capitol Report suggest he may be trailing 49.7% - 44.3%.
Democrats in the 1st District (John Larson - Central Connecticut, including Hartford); the 2nd District (Joe Courtney - the Eastern half of the state) and the 3rd District (Rosa DeLauro - South, including New Haven and Milford) seem to be more secure.
A list of Connecticut newspapers (with links) can be found here.