The vast majority of Senate Democrats facing reelection in 2012 voted in favor of the DREAM Act and the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy over the weekend.
Just two Senate Democrats who will likely face tough reelection contests in 2012 voted against the DREAM Act, a measure that is derided as amnesty for illegal immigrants by many Republican critics and on Saturday fell short of the votes needed in the Senate.
Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), both top GOP targets in 2012, were the lone Democratic "no" votes. Tester's vote prompted a scathing rebuke over at Daily Kos, where Markos Moulitsas labeled him "the Blanche Lincoln of 2012 — the Democrat I will be most happy to see go down in defeat."
The third "no" vote among Democrats would have been Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), but he missed Saturday's votes to attend a Christmas party, for which he was skewered by critics.
The Democrat, who will face voters again in 2012 for the right to serve a full six-year term, released statements Saturday that made clear he would have voted against the DREAM Act and "Don't ask, don't tell" repeal.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who could also be in the electoral crosshairs of the Tea Party in 2012, was likewise a no-show Saturday. He was attending his grandson's college graduation, but made it clear he would have been a "no" vote on the DREAM Act if he were in Washington.
Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.) was one of just three Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the DREAM Act. The longtime Republican senator is staring down a potential Tea Party-backed challenge from the right in 2012.
The other two Republicans senators who voted in favor of the measure have no electoral calculations at the moment — Bob Bennett (R-Utah) couldn't get past a GOP primary this past cycle, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) just survived a tough race against Tea Party-backed Joe Miller, but has yet to be certified the winner due to Miller's legal challenge.
On repeal of "Don't ask," which passed easily, not a single Senate Democrat up in 2012 voted against it. Among the yes votes expected to be top GOP targets next cycle: Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson (Fla.), Tester and Jim Webb (Va.).
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), whose decisions on whether to run for another term in 2012 and how exactly he'd do it are eagerly awaited by both parties, led the "Don't ask, don't tell" repeal charge in the Senate.
On the Republican side, eight senators voted for repeal, including two potential 2012 Tea Party targets, Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).
One notable exception was Lugar, who was originally thought to be a yes vote but has expressed reservations about repeal over the past couple weeks.