Washington (CNN) - Sen. Evan Bayh's unexpected decision Monday not to seek re-election gives national Republicans one of their best opportunities to takeover a Democratic seat, according to independent analyses from two leading non-partisan political handicappers.
The Cook Political Report revised its rating for the Indiana contest to "Leans Republican" shortly after news of Bayh's decision broke. The race had previously been rated "Leans Democratic."
According to the Cook analysis, "While Democrats have not had the opportunity to assess their options, it is unlikely that they will be able to come up with a strong enough candidate to compete in a GOP-leaning state in the current political climate."
The Rothenberg Political Report modified its rating from a "narrow advantage" for Democrats to "toss-up," meaning the race could go either way.
"Bayh surely was the strongest candidate Indiana Democrats could have nominated – if only because of his years of proven electoral success and his $13 million campaign account – and an open seat is much more difficult for Democrats to hold in the current political environment," according to the Rothenberg analysis.
Both publications had Bayh as a lock for re-election until the announcement earlier this month that former Republican Sen. Dan Coats was mulling a challenge. According to Cook and Rothenberg, a Bayh-Coats match-up would have been competitive, with a slight advantage for Bayh as the incumbent.