The Fate of The Senate
With the majority of news outlets focusing on the circus that is the 2012 Presidential race, most are ignoring the all-important Senate races that could determine the direction of our country for the next 4 years. It will be extraordinarily difficult for the GOP to take the White House, with Obama the heavy favorite to get re-elected, so Republicans should shift focus on gaining the majority in the Senate to act as an important check to President Obama’s overreach of power.
Currently Democrats hold 53 seats to Republicans 47. 33 seats are up for re-election this year and of the 67 sitting Senators not up, 30 are Democrats and 37 are Republicans. Of the 33 races up this year, we can assume that 16 are safe D and 7 are safe R. This puts the Senate at 46 (D) to 45 (R) meaning there are 9 races this year that will decide the fate of the Senate. These “toss up states” include the following:
Florida: A tight GOP primary in the Sunshine State between Rep. Connie Mack and former Sen. George LeMieux. Mack leads in most polls and will face incumbent senator Ben Nelson (D). This state will be heavily affected by the Presidential election with down ballot voting.
Montana: Incumbent Senator Tester is runny against Re. Denny Rehberg (R) in a race that has remained a dead heat for months. With Montana being a red state, Rehberg has a tiny lead, but this is still going to be a hard fought battle.
Massachusetts: This will be one of the tightest races of the year. Incumbent Sen. Scott Brown is running against Dem Elizabeth Warren. Polling consistently has the 2 in a dead heat. It will be interesting to see how Romney being on the ballot will help or hurt Scott Brown. The DNC is already up with ads in Massachusetts tying Romney to Brown.
Missouri: Incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D) is the most vulnerable incumbent this election cycle. Polling has consistently shown her trailing the potential GOP challengers. The interesting thing in this race will be who comes out of this tight 3 way GOP primary between Rep. Todd Akin, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, and businessman John Brunner.
Nebraska: With incumbent Senator Ben Nelson retiring after realizing he could not win with the “corn husker kickback label” this race has been blown wide open. Attorney General John Bruning and Tea Party backed State Treasurer Don Stenberg are in a fiery primary for the nomination, with Bruning the likely winner. Former NE Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) recently entered the race at the pushing of Harry Reid, but is consistently polling below his GOP challengers.
Nevada: Incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) is very vulnerable this cycle and will have a tough race against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D). Money will play a big role in this race with large donors on both sides offering to bank roll SuperPacs.
New Mexico: With an open election in this state, the Dems are battling in the primary to run against presumed GOP nominee, ex-Rep Heather Wilson. NM went comfortably for President Obama in 08 and Dems are hoping the same will happen in 2012, helping carry the Senate seat.
Virginia: In what will likely be one of the most expensive races in the country, ex-Sen. George Allen (R) is challenging former Gov. Tim Kaine (D). Polls have the 2 in a dead heat and the outcome will likely be determined by whether or not the state goes for Obama again.
Wisconsin: Another tight GOP primary with ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson running against Tea Party candidate Mark Neumann, Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and businessman Eric Hovde. Polling shows that Thompson has the best chance of defeating Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), but it will be a tight primary.