Senate Elections Of 2012

The Democrats And The US Senate: Major Challenge For 2012

The Democrats face a major problem in 2012 regarding their control of the United States Senate.

With only 53 seats, including those of Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont; with 23 seats to be defended as compared to 10 for the Republicans; and with seven Democratic incumbents retiring, it will be a massive challenge to avoid losing the Senate, and also to avoid a major GOP landslide leading to their dominance over the Senate for the long term future.

Along with Senator Lieberman, the following Senators are retiring: Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Jim Webb of Virginia.

Only two Republican Senators are retiring: Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona.

The other 24 seats are being defended by incumbents–8 Republicans, 15 Democrats, and Independent Bernie Sanders.

Some of the seats for the Democrats are considered “safe”, but among those worrisome are: Bill Nelson of Florida, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The Republicans in trouble include: Richard Lugar of Indiana, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Ironically, it is the Tea Party Movement which threatens the nomination for another term of Lugar, Snowe, and Hatch, who otherwise would probably be cinches for reelection, but if they lost the primaries in their states, the seats could go Democratic. Brown has a tough competitor in Elizabeth Warren in an extremely heavy Democratic state, which sees many “insulted” that a Republican, admittedly moderate, took over Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Heller in Nevada has the tough Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who represents much of Las Vegas, the bulk of the population of the state, opposing him in a difficult battle.

While a major victory by either candidate for President could turn the tide for other Senate seats, it is extremely unlikely that the Republican nominee could win by enough of a landslide to take away more Democratic seats, but an Obama landslide, not out of the realm of possibility, could have a dramatic effect on the final Senate totals.

The point is that IF the Republicans won all seven Democratic seats in danger and kept all their seats, they would have 54 members of the Senate to 45 Democrats and one Independent (Sanders).

On the other hand, IF the Democrats kept all their seats and won the five contested GOP seats, the Democrats would have 58 seats including Sanders, and the Republicans would have 42 seats.

So the swing of seats from 53-47 Democratic could be as much as 58-42 Democratic or 54–46 Republican. So the range could be 12 seats, and remember that this third of the Senate would remain there for six years, so whichever party gains seats could be dominant for the long term.

Of course, in theory, every seat defended could be victorious, but also the odds that all seven retired seats for the Democrats would go Democratic is very problematical. So in actuality, IF all seven Democratic seats went to the Republicans, it could be a true disaster as then at a maximum, there could be a division of 61-39 Republican in the Senate.

On the other hand, if the five contested GOP seats went Democratic plus the two retiree seats, and everything else worked out for the Democrats, highly unlikely, then they could have a 60-40 Democratic Senate!

So therefore, the swing could be seven maximum for the Democrats from what they have now, while the GOP could gain fourteen maximum.

In either case, there would be such dominance that it would affect the Senate for many elections to come, no matter what happens in 2014 and 2016, and affect the agenda of the next President in a positive or negative way!