Harry Reid (Democrat) vs. Sharron Angle (Republican)
The intrigue: Incumbent Harry Reid, a close Obama ally and the sitting Senate majority leader, has been in the US Senate since 1986. He is now a deeply unpopular figure in his recession-hit home state, but his campaign was given a lifeline when Republicans selected conservative Tea Party favourite Sharron Angle as his opponent.
The bespectacled Reid, 70, has proven to be a pragmatic, no-holds-barred campaigner, portraying Angle as too right-wing for Nevada voters who chose Obama by a comfortable margin in 2008. A series of advertisements from the Reid camp slammed some of Angle’s more extreme past proclamations (including an allusion to the constitutional right to bear arms as a conceivable response to an overstepping federal government and a proposal to phase out Social Security and the Department of Education). Angle, meanwhile, is seeking to capitalise on widespread disapproval of Reid and his left-leaning politics. For many Nevada voters, the race could boil down to picking the candidate they see as the least bad of the two.
The odds: Recent polls show a neck-and-neck race, with Reid enjoying a slight edge but Angle hovering near the margin of error.