The ‘16 Senate race campaigns begin...

Yes, the last Senate election was just two months ago, but the fight for Senate seats, 2016 version, has begun – and that means new predictions.

So the Rothenberg Political Report, one of the top independent congressional analysts, Monday offered nationwide Senate race ratings. It pointed out that Republicans have to defend 24 Senate seats this time, and Democrats need a net gain of five to regain the control they lost last year. Democrats have 10 seats up.

Republicans have to fight to retain seats in seven states President Barack Obama won twice. Rothenberg rates two of those races tossups, seats now held by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Two Democratic-held seats could prove huge battles. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada appears to be gearing up for another run, and Sen. Michael Bennet’s seat is up in Colorado.

Tilting Republican are seats held by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Leaning Republican are seats occupied by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

In all other seats, returning incumbents are regarded as favored or safe.