Ten months before the 2010 midterms, we apparently know this much for sure: Democrats face a doomsday scenario. They'll lose anywhere from 10 to 400 seats in the House and eight to 100 in the Senate. The landscape is just as dire in the all-important races for governor.
That's certainly one way to interpret the developments of Doomsday Tuesday, when embattled Democrats quit top races in Connecticut, North Dakota, Colorado and Michigan (although, actually, the only one of those races that now becomes more uphill for Democrats is in North Dakota).
Elections in November have a funny way of tossing aside conventional wisdom from January (or, for that matter, late October). Even more so this year, it seems, there are a slew of unknowns in races across the country that make it impossible, no matter how tempting, to write the story of 2010 just yet. Here are 10 key unknowns from top races that will have a decisive impact on the year in politics.
• Alabama: Can Rep. Artur Davis (D) be elected governor? Two years after a black man won the White House while carrying Southern states like Virginia and North Carolina, Democrats are closely watching Davis' campaign and asking: Will voters in the Deep South elect a moderate African American? But before Davis can answer that question, he needs to win a tough Democratic primary in June against state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks (D). If Davis wins, look for a spike in African-American candidates around the country in 2012.
• Delaware: Will Beau Biden (D) run for Senate? It's been more than two months since Vice President Joe Biden's son returned from Iraq to heated speculation that he'll run to succeed his father in the Senate. Since then, popular Rep. Mike Castle (R) jumped into the race, throwing the younger Biden a curve. Has Biden opted to forgo a tough race against Castle or is he just, er, biding his time? The answer to that question will decide whether this race turns into a referendum on the Obama-Biden