A Preview of the 2012 Race for the United States Senate

[Guest columnist is Unified Patriot blogger/editor “Pilgrim”]

Only 14 months remain before Election Day 2012. Most political reporting today, as is usual this far out, focuses on the prospects for President Barack Obama’s reelection and the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

But Americans will also choose 33 of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate. Here is an early preview of how the Senate Chamber (pictured above) will be filled in 2013.

There are 37 Republicans and 30 Democrats who do not face re-election.

The breakdown of the remaining 33 seats: 23 are currently held by the Ds and 10 are currently held by the Rs. Eight incumbent Rs are seeking reelection, 17 incumbent Ds are seeking reelection, 6 open seats are currently held by Ds, and 2 open seats are currently held by Rs.

The Ds do not have a good record to run on.

They have not proposed, let alone passed a budget bill for over 826 days.

They will engage in an all out negative name calling campaign against their R opponents because that is all they know how to do. I would love to see all 33 seats won by the Rs. This would give us a filibuster and veto proof majority of 70 Rs to 30 Ds.

But now let us switch from “electing constitutional conservatives to public office” cheerleader to political oddsmaker. In short –  Let’s. Get. Real.

According to a prominent political handicapper, Larry Sabato, there are 5 states that a liberal will not be elected in, and 7 states that a conservative will not be elected in.

The 5 states safe for the Rs include:


Mississippi: incumbent R running
Tennessee: incumbent R running
Utah: incumbent R running
Wyoming: incumbent R running
Texas: incumbent R retiring

The 7 states safe for the Ds include:


California: incumbent D running
Delaware: incumbent D running
Maryland: incumbent D running
New York: incumbent D running
Rhode Island: incumbent D running
Vermont: incumbent D running
Washington: incumbent D running

The above would bring the tally to 42 Rs and 37 Ds in the Senate. With my cheerleader replaced by my political handicapper I want to emphasize that defeating an incumbent R or an incumbent D in the primary and winning the general is nearly an impossible task. Yes, it happened in Utah when Mike Lee won. This is the exception and not the rule.

Look at what happened in 2006 when Ned Lamont won a primary over Joe Lieberman. Look what happened in 2010 in Arkansas when Bill Halter tried to defeat Blanche Lincoln, in Colorado when Andrew Romanoff tried to defeat Michael Bennett, in Arizona when J.D.Hayworth tried to defeat John McCain, in Pennsylvania when Joe Sestak defeated Arlen Specter, in the Alaska primary when Joe Miller defeated Lisa Murkowski. In each instance there was not a happy ending for either the Ds or the Rs.

I am not going to call anyone names or try to dissuade them from trying to primary an incumbent, but history shows us that these attempts are mostly unsuccessful.

Larry Sabato has listed 6 states that should elect a Republican and 9 states that should elect a Democrat. (Please note that I replaced conservative and liberal with Republican and Democrat.)

The 6 states expected to elect a Republican include:


Indiana: incumbent R running
Maine: incumbent R running
Arizona: incumbent R retiring
North Dakota: incumbent D retiring
Massachusetts: incumbent R running
Nevada: appointed incumbent R running

The 9 states expected to elect a Democrat include:


Connecticut: incumbent D retiring
Minnesota: incumbent D running
Pennsylvania: incumbent D running
Hawaii: incumbent D retiring
Florida: incumbent D running
Michigan: incumbent D running
New Jersey: incumbent D running
Ohio: incumbent D running
West Virginia: incumbent D running

This would bring the tally to 48 Rs and 46 Ds. The Rs would still hold a slim 2 seat advantage, but they need 3 more seats to have the majority in the Senate. The fight over the final 6 Senate seats is the battleground that will determine who wins the majority, and for these reasons they are going to be the most important seats to pick the most electable conservative candidate. If there is another wave election like 2010 I believe the GOP can win all 6 seats.

The 6 states listed as Toss-ups include:


New Mexico: incumbent D retiring
Virginia: incumbent D retiring
Wisconsin: incumbent D retiring
Missouri: incumbent D running
Montana: incumbent D running
Nebraska: incumbent D running

The only poll that ever really matters is taken on Election Day. I hope I have not depressed anyone living in one of the 46 states projected for the Ds. That is not my intent.

But if you are discouraged by the above analysis, it certainly isn’t to late to become involved now in choosing GOP senatorial candidates. It is not nearly enough to merely attend Tea Party meetings and write blogs.

Get active in your local Republican Party. Do not wait for an invitation or assistance in going through the process of becoming a precinct committeeman. Take it upon yourself to attend any meetings you become aware of, and ask people that go to these meetings just what you need to do in order to become more involved. The establishment may not want you this active, but it is your right, and obligation to do so – if you want to make a difference in 2012.

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