The Democratic Party lost most of their majority in last year’s Senate elections, dropping to 53 seats. The question now is whether the Republicans will take over the majority in 2012. In order for this to occur, the GOP must take over 4 seats, if Obama wins re-election, or 3 seats, if the Republicans take the presidency. As we know, this is because the Vice President casts a tie breaking vote.
According to one analyst, Larry Sabato, who has made a name for himself predicting such things, the Republicans right now are slightly favored to win control of this body. His analysis begins by saying that one of the seats is gone, with North Dakota‘s Kent Conrad retiring. At least three other seats (Nebraska, Montana, and Missouri) are expected to flip from Democratic to Republican. Sabato’s analysis is based on the premise that in each of these three states, Obama is expected to lose. Since, in presidential election years, turnout invariably increases, the party that wins the state’s electoral votes usually has an advantage in the lower elections.
Other Democratic seats that the Republicans are expected to have a decent chance to win include Virginia, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. Depending on economic conditions next spring, Republicans could also defeat the Democratic incumbents in a number of other states. Specifically, Sabato mentions Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Hawaii as seats that could potentially be picked up. At the same time, the Democrats are only expected to provide a realistic challenge to two sitting Republicans, Brown in Massachusetts and Heller in Nevada.
We’ll start our state-by-state discussions and analyses of the Senate races in July. Next year’s elections should be pretty exciting, with both the Senate and the House up for grabs, and the Presidential contest taking up most of the national attention.