Screen shot 2010-05-18 at 20.52.28 2010 could be a very good year for the Republican Party. The map above from RealClearPolitics shows how the Republicans – according to current polling – could gain up to eight Senate seats from the Democrats although five is more likely.

Grassroots Republicans aren't letting the Republican establishment enjoy the opportunity to install favourite candidates in the 'pick up states', however.

All over the USA the Republican grassroots – fired by the tea party movement – is supporting insurgent candidates against 'Washington candidates'. The more conservative Mark Rubio has already ousted Charlie Crist as the Republican nominee for Florida. Crist is standing as an independent and Florida is now a three horse race with each candidate on about 33%.

Last night Rand Paul – son of libertarian Ron Paul – won the GOP nomination for Kentucky, again beating the candidate heavily supported by the Republican leadership in Washington. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina – and an independent-minded Republican who endorsed Paul – commented: “The Washington establishment threw everything they had at him and yet he prevailed.” Paul is a small government conservative who wants to cut spending on national defence, worrying security hawks like David Frum. He is also a staunch opponent of the climate change agenda.

Daniel Larison of the American Conservative comments:

"Paul is one of a very few Republican candidates in the country who is truly serious in his desire for fiscal responsibility. In his hostility to expansive government and reckless spending, he does not make exceptions for military spending, and he is appropriately skeptical of government power whether it comes in the form of military adventurism and empire-building or sweeping social legislation and bailouts. Paul is the candidate of both austerity and peace."

Watch the video below from 1 minutes 39 seconds in:

The Democrats also saw establishment candidates beaten. Arlen Specter who defected to the Democrats a year ago in order to stand again for Senate LOST the Democratic primary by eight points to a grassroots favourite, Joe Sestak.

In one 'real' race yesterday the Republicans failed to gain the seat of John Murtha, who died recently. The failure suggests the GOP may struggle to win the House of Representatives in November.

The Republicans were boosted, however, by the fact that the Connecticut Senate race has now become unexpectedly competitive. The state has become a "toss up" after Democrat Richard Blumenthal was caught making false claims about serving in Vietnam.

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