Skip to comments.2012 Senate Predictions: Republicans Gain 8-10 Seats
Posted on 11/09/2010 9:46:42 PM PST by dangus
1. Ben Nelson, NE
Don't let rising poll numbers fool you: Republicans like Nelson's independence, but would rather a conservative, and Democrats are simply over their hissy fit inspired by Nelson slowing Obamacare down. A real conservative, like Atty Gen. Jon Bruning will win easily. (The latest poll has Nelson back over 50%, but losing by 15 to Bruning.) VERDICT: easy pickup.
2. Jon Tester, MT
A radical leftist in Montana? No way. His election was just a fluke in 2006. Denny Rehberg, the sole Montana congressman could run. If not, former Lt Gov. candidate, businessman Steve Daines will. VERDICT: easy pickup, if the Republicans can field a good opponent.
3. Sherrod Brown, OH
With the lowest approval ratings (31%) among Senators up for re-election tested by Public Policy polling, Sen. Brown faces a quickly reddening electorate, fury over Obama's policy, and a deep, deep Republican bench. Ken Blackwell, please run. Secretary of State-elect Jon Husted and Rep. Jim Jordan are potential candidates, also. VERDICT: likely pickup
4. Kent Conrad, ND
The Democrats holding this seat in this deep-red seat is an anchronism, born of the voters crafty manipulation of D.C., but such plans are doomed in an age of hyperpartisanship, and Conrad has failed to accomplish much for North Dakota with his seniority. North Dakota is now an oil state, looking to (in loose words) "Drill here! Drill now!" His one advantage is that North Dakota voters like seniority, and don't like transparent ambition, so his opposition may still be rather unsettled. VERDICT: likely pickup, but a Republican needs to start getting known NOW.
5. Debbie Stabenow, MI
More disliked than Sen. Brown (50%), and less liked than Sen. McCaskill (38%), Sen. Stabenow is part of a trinity of dismally polling Democrats in reddening states. Michigan voters are weary of their economy being in the dump, and have just swept Republicans into domination. Paging Keith Butler. VERDICT: likely pickup.
6. Claire McCaskill, MO
Just 1% away from being the most unpopular senator polled by Public Policy Polling (53% disapproval). VERDICT: likely pickup
7. Jim Webb, VA
Former Secretary of the Navy, Sen. Webb is trying desperately to establish himself as a moderate, after the Republicans swept statewide offices by high-teen margins in 2009, and then picked up several House seats in 2010. Unfortunately, Obama's highly partisan legislative agenda left Webb little room. 2-term Lt. Gov Bolling let himself be leapfrogged when Atty. Gen. McDonnell took the Governor's nomination and victory, so he could be looking for the seat, as could several House members. VERDICT: likely pickup
8. Bob Casey, PA
At 36% / -4, Sen. Casey's approval ratings are seriously underwater. Pennsylvania is shifting red again; Public Policy Polling show Obama would be creamed, 41-55, by a generic Republican. Casey was incorrectly perceived by many to be pro-life in 2006 due to his father's legendary defense of pro-life Democrats, but has been exposed as a tired shill for social leftism, particularly by Obamacare. GOP sweeps provides many potential challengers, but many could use a little more seasong. VERDICT: Challenging pickup.
9. Bill Nelson, FL
Nelson has been turning into a radical lefty while his state is leaving behind any traces of purple as it goes deep red. And what good is Democrat whose raison d'existence is his NASA ties, now that a Democratic president is killing NASA. The Senior Citizen's lobby is furious over Obamacare, the natives are very conservative; there just doesn't seem to be any constituency for Nelson. Still, he's a scrapper and could be 2012's Harry Reid. VERDICT: Challenging pickup.
10. Herb Kohl, WI
When they were last simultaneously polled together (by Public Policy Polling), Sen. Kohl's approval ratings were no better than Sen. Feingold's, 45%. Since then, Sen. Feingold was routed in his re-election bid, and Sen. Kohl's have fallen from 45-35 to 41-40. Kohl will be 77 years old, and could likely retire; because his campaigns are almost entirely self-funded, his astounding lack of fundraising to date ($25K) is no indication he might retire. If he did, Rep. Paul Ryan would run for the Republican nomination; if not, there could nonetheless be a deep bench of Republicans looking to take him on. VERDICT: Challenging pickup.
11. Bob Menendez, NJ
His approval ratings are terrible, but could New Jersey have gone from so deeply blue all the way to red? Gov. Christie's doing his best. But who will the GOP run? The 2011 legislative races will give a hint if this state could be competitive. 2012's Patty Murray? VERDICT: Blood-soaked hold.
12. Jeff Bingaman, NM
2-term libertarian Governor Gary Johnson is gearing up for something. A run at the presidency? Sen. Bingaman's relatively popular, but if Johnson is making a go after him, he could be in trouble. Otherwise, it's hard to picture Bingaman going down. VERDICT: Dangerous.
13. Dianne Feinstein, CA
79-year-old Sen. Feinstein says she's running again. She's smarter and less bitterly partisan than her colleague, the recently re-elected Sen. Boxer, so she ought to have an easier time of it... and Boxer won in a landslide. But could a desperate economic and fiscal situation in California make 2010 the Democrats' last hurrah in California? Or will she be too old to run the vigorous race needed? VERDICT: likely but uncertainly held.
Joe Lieberman, CT
Sen. Lieberman's most difficult opponent will likely be from his left. Democrats hate him for almost derailing Obamacare; Republicans hate him for otherwise remaining a liberal's lackey, in spite of the Democrats' betrayal of him. Democrats outnumber Republicans, though, so advantage Democrats. It's just barely conceivable, though, that a split Democratic vote could let a Republican win a three-way contest. VERDICT: likely Democrat, but Republicans could get lucky.
Maria Cantwell, WA
Sen. Cantwell is smarter, wealthier, and even prettier than Sen. Murray, whose victory has to be soul-crushing for Washington Republicans. Could Clint Dider run a better campaign than Rossi? VERDICT: likely held, but potentially competitive
Kirsten Gillibrand, NY
Sen. Gillibrand blew through $12 million facing token opposition for a two-year term. She's definitely more battle-tested, now. But will one of the dwindling number of Republican New York stars take her on for the bigger prize of a full 6 years? Giuliani? Pataki? (Personally, I believe Giuliani is far better suited to be governor.) VERDICT: Conditionally easy hold.
Amy Klobuchar, MN
Minnesota's no longer the most Democratic state in the union, by far (Remember, it's the one state that never voted for President Reagan, let alone either Bush, Dole or McCain.) But it's still fairly bluish, and Klobuchar is popular. VERDICT: hold.
Daniel Akaka, HI
Former governor Linda Lingle is just about the last Republican in Hawaii. There's only one Republican state Senator. Akaka's very old, and could retire, but even with Lingle running for an open seat, it's hard to imagine Hawaii going Republican. VERDICT: easy hold.
Ben Cardin, MD
VERDICT: Only nominally challenged.
Sheldon Whitehouse, RI
VERDICT: Only nominally challenged.
Tom Carper, DE
VERDICT: Only nominally challenged.
Bernie Sanders, VT
Vermont ought to be the disembodied and rotting skull to ward Republicans away from a policy of appeasing leftists; As recently as the 1980s, Vermont was solidly Republican. The perfect red-state stereotype: Rural. Almost exclusively white. Gun-loving. Now, it's the most liberal state in the union. Pathetic. VERDICT: The socialist goes unchallenged.
NET GAIN: REPUBLICANS GAIN EIGHT TO TEN SEATS.
Wait, what about potential Republican losses?
Not going to happen. Any Republican who didn't lose in 2006 isn't going to lose in 2012! Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) has said she would retire; Sen. Jon Ensign (NV) will likely be forced into retirement due to a scandal involving marital infidelity and misuse of office; Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ) and Dick Lugar (IN) could also retire. All these seats would seem to be safe, and each would likely result in a better conservative. Sen. Scott Brown (MA) is sitting on massive approval ratings and a $6 million warchest. Best Democrat hopes for a pickup would be Ensign's seat, or to hope that Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) retires or is defeated by a deeply flawed Republican in the primary.
IS 2012 A BREAKTHROUGH YEAR FOR BLACK REPUBLICANS?
Potential black, Republican candidates in winnable elections include
(1) Pastor and Detroit City Councilman Keith Butler (MI), who lost the primary in 2006 to take on Sen. Stabenow when she was a much tougher candidate,
(2) Lieutenant Governor-elect Jennifer Carroll (FL),
(3) Former Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (OH),
(4) Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (TX),
(5) former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (CA).
Could you even picture (6) former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell (NY)? I'd have to consider Williams a favorite; he definitely is running. Wouldn't it be amazing if there were one or more black Republican senators in 2013, given that there will be no black Democrat senators in 2011?
By the time it comes for me to vote out Di-Fi, I will be a Texas resident and it won’t matter.
Mind you, I will miss my California — home of Prop 13; blue skies; and her geography: beaches, mountains and desert all within an hour and a half.
But I can see when there are more people in the cart than pulling it. And, about one year from now (I am waiting to fully pay off my house) I ain’t gonna be under the lash of insanity.
Nice analysis, and from this distance, not too bad at all.
Let’s see what the cumulative effect of a couple of years of sunshine do to enhance your predictions. I’m betting a bunch of incumbent Democrats are going to have one hell of a time raising funds, and every one should have an opponent who is strongly backed by the Tea Party. I think a lot of those Democrats will choose a safe retirement as opposed to a hopeless reelection fight.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint folks...
Oh, important point: NONE of the top ten pickup opportunities are against incumbents with a massive amount of cash on hand, or with a Democratic machine in their favor, like Reid had.
If DiFi gets like Byrd or Kennedy and decides to keep running until she dies in office, at what point will it become excusable to start calling her “DieFi”?
Ben Nelson is roundly despised in Nebraska, and is down 15 points on the day he announced he will run again.
#10 - it’s long past time for the Wisconsin Dairy Queen to be retired, if for no other reason than he’s utterly stupid. Without Russ Feingold he’ll have a hard time finding the men’s room...oops, no that one he can figure out - but you get the idea.
I was hoping we would get 51 this year and then be in a good position to pick up enough for a filibuster proof majority in 2012. Picking up 13 in 2012 now looks like more of a stretch.
This will only hold true if newly-elected conservatives hold the line. If they go squishy to get along, all of them are toast.
How many time have we said that over the years?
With the Fed just giving everyone a 20% pay cut, one wishes that Nov. 2012 would be next week.
So many things can happen before the next election.
You are off on two of your predictions.
Casey is really in shabby shape in PA and a TON of union and Lib cash was spent to drag Sestak into a competitive race. ‘12 will even have less money available with Obummer running. If a decent candidate like Toomey is found, he is toast.
Webb is already distancing himself from the party. I really think he will jump ship and become a Repub. Especially if Manchin does. The writing is on the wall for Webbs loss, he will do what he can to stay Senator.
Great work , thanks.
Interesting thought. If some Republicans are happy that the Democrats kept the majority in the Senate because it will make Congress harder for Obama to scapegoat, could four Democrats (or three plus Lieberman) actually agree to switch sides and join the GOP just so Obama can have his whipping boy for 2012?
Granted, extremely far-fetched but I’ve learned to never assume these treacherous Dems will stop short in their quest for ultimate power. Could we see, say, a Manchin-Webb-Nelson-Lieberman flip to hand the Senate over to the GOP for two years just to use them as an issue for Dems to run against in 2012?
2 years is a LONG WAY OFF to be predicting this. Just 2 years ago the death of the GOP was predicted. Some fools even wrote books and articles about it.
I think with Webb it is purely self preservation. I don’t see a lot of Dims putting their neck out for what is shaping up as a loser prez.
That is why there was an every man for himself attitude before the election and an open revolt is brewing in the house over Pelosi’s return.
This may become the worst two years for the economy—ever.
Let’s see what a broken California looks like in 2012—it may seem like a very different place.
I am sticking with my one prediction—we won’t be running against Obama because he will not be the Democratic nominee.
California is DEAD....NY is beyond DEAD....I like our odds in Montona,Va, Fl, Missouri, OH, PA, and Nebraska.....my opinion is if you voted for healthcare you are a liberal (Ben Nelson). He’s not a moderate. The question is if NRSC chooses the candidates we’re doomed.
I too, like the analysis. WE need to start now....
BUT, and this is the big BUT....It starts at the top. Who will run for president? What will be their slogan?
Somehow, I see Sarah again better as the VP candidate. She doesn’t run, but stays in the wings....
Sorry, I like her alot, just don’t think she’s ready for the Presidency...even though she is hands down better qualified than the imposter in chief we have now....
Before anybody puts forth Powell’s name as a candidate - black or otherwise - remember these facts:
1. He openly supported and voted for 0bambi;
2. He sat silent knowing that Scooter Libby was innocent;
3. He never once defended President Bush after the U speech; and
4. At best, just another RINO. At worst, an likely vote against Conservative principles. No thank you.
With the Maine Witches, the South Carolina Poofter, The Alaskan Cow, the Hatched Chicken, and Taxachussetts’ Brown on “our side”, the GOP would need at least 65 members to be filibuster proof. Toss in McCainiac, McConnell, Corker, etc, and the probable number is somewheres north of 75 needed to enact any fundamental change.
How does that make me wrong? I picked PA and VA as pickups.
FWIW, I agree.
I firmly hold that we CANNOT allow it to start at the top. That’s what killed us in the Bush years; we got a leader who was a socialist, and the Republican Congress had no independent battle plan.
Push hard to win the Senate big, and it won’t matter who wins the nomination. If conservatives control the legislative agenda, it’s hard to picture some Willard vetoing a Republican agenda.
A few things could happen: The economy could take off with GDP growth of 9%, like under Reagan. Naah. Obama could be faced with a crisis that allows the media to rally around what a great leader he is. But he already blew the oil spill.
Personally, I don’t think the Left really believed all that 40 years of dominance stuff; Obama, Reid and Pelosi governed as if they knew they had 2 years to ransack the country and be gone; cramming all sorts of unpopular legislation in, rather than trying to rebuild the 1930-1994 dominance of the Left.
But you never know what COULD happen. I write these articles to lay a vision of what may be accomplished; the point is reasonably met expectations, not perfect prognostication.
You might want to add your two cents...
Good, well reasoned analysis. Thanks.
If a strong GOP challenger emerges right away, some of those Dem incumbents in GOP leaning states may decide to hang up their hats rather than face a bruising election where the outcome may place them in the minority anyhow. I’m thinking Nelson-NE, Kohl, Conrad.
Some Dems incumbents in red states may actually face bruising primary battles from left wing candidates.
If Obama is at the top of the ticket, I don’t think he’ll have coattails this time around and having Obama on the ticket would energize conservatives to come out and vote against him.
A lot can happen in two years as we’ve witnessed from the past two years.
I didn’t say you were wrong. I said you were off.
You predict Webb losing by a challenge from the GOP. I see growing evidence in Webbs words since the election showing a party switch.
As for Casey I agree there will be a pick-up. I just don’t believe it will be a challenging pick-up at this time. If Casey rehabilitates himself somehow it might be challenging but not at this time.
Retirements will scramble this picture a bit, as will an economic recovery that will be generating significant new jobs by the end of 2011. Obama on the ballot will also help most Democrats.
You’re correct that Virginia will be a pickup seat in 2012. Not so correct that Bill Bolling will go for it. He wants to be Governor. Look at it this way.
Bill Bolling will run for Governor in 2013 - he stepped aside in 2009 it’s “his turn”
Ken Cuccinelli will run for a second term as AG in 2013
Possiblities for the Senate
Delegate Bob Marshall (ran against Gilmore in the 2008 primary)
Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart
Congressman Randy Forbes
There may be others in the mix. But I don’t see anyway it’s either Bolling or Cuccinelli. Not yet.
I hope to God you’re wrong. George Allen is a meathead. A mere Delegate is a tough sell. Forbes is ho-hum. Stewart might be good.
Will a Republican win Lindsay Graham’s seat?
You’re wrong about George Allen. He remains the one Virginia candidate I’m willing to bleed for.