It is beyond me why pundits like Charlie Cook and Chris Cillizza think that David Vitter is one of the most endangered incumbents in the country for 2010 while not even putting Richard Burr in the top ten.
The reality is that for his personal foibles, Vitter is still pretty popular and the Democrats in Louisiana have no bench. I'll be surprised if whoever the Dems put up is even able to hold Vitter below 55%, even if his poor personal choices are dredged up ad nauseum. Why would Charlie Melancon want to give up what's become a pretty safe House seat for a Senate race where his chances would be iffy at best?
Burr, on the other hand, has consistently low approval ratings and is already losing a match up to potential challenger Roy Cooper. Even if Cooper doesn't run there is no shortage of strong potential candidates the Democrats could put up.
Beyond that North Carolina just went blue across the board, including the resounding defeat of a Senate incumbent once thought to be invincible. Louisiana stayed solidly red at the Presidential level, dumped two Democratic members of Congress (granted there were strange circumstances for both), and saw its Democratic Senator reelected by a tighter margin than any other in the country. The political climate in NC is much better for Democrats.
I think this race has to be considered in the top five of potential seat shifts in 2010, if not even in the top two or three.
At least Nate Silver, as usual, has a clue about the relative competitiveness of these races. I think some folks need to get outside the Beltway more.
For whatever it's worth, we've done polling on eight 2010 Senate races so far. Based on the current landscape for each of those seats I'd put the likelihood of their flipping in this order:
2) North Carolina
If Richard Burr does better at the polls in 2010 than David Vitter, I'll be happy to eat crow. But I would be shocked.