Republicans need a net gain of four seats to take control of the United States Senate. Such a victory would return Mississippi’s senior Sen. Thad Cochran to the position of Chairman of Senate Appropriations.

It doesn’t seem likely this year.

Republicans are hopeful to take Democratic seats in Montana, North Dakota and Nebraska. But following the retirement of Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, the GOP appears likely to lose that seat; the defeat of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary to the Tea Party supported Richard Mourdock has turned Indiana into a toss-up; the for sure defeat of Missouri Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill evaporated with Republican nominee Todd Akin’s remarks about rape; and incumbent Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown slightly trails his challenger in the polls and fundraising.

Republicans don’t anticipate Democrats sweeping all those races, but the GOP goal of Senate control has become much more challenging and requires wins for candidates like George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Linda McMahon in Connecticut, or Connie Mack in Florida to overcome the Democratic majority.

Safe Republican seats include Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Mississippi.

In Mississippi, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker faces minor competition in his campaign for his first full term. Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to the Senate in December of 2007 after the resignation of then Senator Trent Lott.

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