The bellwethers, as defined here, are not simply a collection of competitive races: They are the contests that illuminate in especially vivid fashion the currents shaping a potentially historic year.It's a collection of the expected issues: The war in Iraq, Bush's popularity, Echoes of Abramoff, the pocketbook, etc. So far it mostly sums up where selected races stand via the a particular issue, but make no major projections. For example, under ballot initiatives they highlight the effect the stem cell initiative will have in Missouri's Senate race, but list it as a toss-up. A Post-Dispatch poll showed that Missouri voters favor protecting stem cells 62% to 35%.
The stem cell issue crosses traditional political boundaries. The GOTV potential on the right will likely be muted by those who straddle the pro-life/pro-stem cell line. How many of them will actually come out to vote is an issue as well. A majority of Republicans oppose stem cell research (58% to 40%), but if those 40% decide to stay home, or vote in favor of stem-cell research and leave the Senate race blank, McCaskill could get the margin she needs.
Add in the fact that 83% of Democrats and 64% of independents favor the research and it is hard to see Republicans gaining enough traction on the issue.