BURBANK, Calif. — If Republicans are to have a serious chance of capturing control of the Senate in November, they are going to have to win in traditionally Democraticstates like California, where Senator Barbara Boxer, a three-term Democrat, is showing signs of vulnerability.
But before Republicans get a clear shot at Mrs. Boxer, they will have to overcome deepdivisions within their own party — divides that reflect both the grass-roots energy surging through the conservative movement and the tensions between the party’s moderate and conservative wings.There are certainly more vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in the country, but early polls in California suggest that Mrs. Boxer is facing what could be the toughest election of her career. Herdifficulties in a state that has for 20 years proved reliably Democratic in national elections suggests how the pendulum has swung against Democrats in just a year. Her potential problems are a function moreof this political climate than of any position or vote she has taken.
Still, for Republicans, this could end up being a repeat of a play they have seen before: a promising opportunity escaping themin a state where Democrats have the edge of 1.5 million more voters registered.
Three Republican candidates are in a lacerating battle for their party’s nomination: Carly Fiorina, the wealthy formerchief executive of Hewlett-Packard; Tom Campbell, a former member of Congress who fits the moderate profile for the kind of Republican who has won statewide contests in the past; and Charles S. DeVore,a state assemblyman who is presenting himself as the Tea Party candidate.
It is hard to see how Republicans can win control of the Senate without toppling Mrs. Boxer. Democrats control the chamber59 to 41; Republicans need 10 seats to take control, since in an evenly divided Senate, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats. Eight Democratic...