Tough math in 2012

Denied the Senate majority by Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.), incompetent Tea Party candidates in places like Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and Nevada, the GOP will get a second crack at the prize in 2012.

With the caveat that much can and will change in two years, Republicans today are looking at a favorable map. Only 10 Republicans face reelection, compared to 21 Democrats and two independents caucusing with them. 

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One of those independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, has seen his last Senate term. Recent numbers from Public Policy Polling (PPP) show him to be easily the most unpopular senator in the country. The only question is whether he retires or goes down in defeat at the ballot box. 

The most popular senator in the country, according to PPP, is Maine’s Olympia Snowe (R). Ironically, she is the second most endangered. Maine Republicans have taken a dramatic rightward turn, and there’s no chance she’ll survive a Republican primary. An independent or even Democratic bid would suit her best, as she remains most popular in her state among that set. So far, she is staying put.

Few other Republicans could be considered endangered. Aside from Snowe, there’s Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who saw his state revert to its solidly Democratic ways this November. He either becomes President Obama’s favorite Republican — and faces a Tea Party-fueled primary — or he sticks with DeMint and becomes a one-third-term senator. John Ensign of Nevada won’t be around in 2013. He’ll likely be taken out in a primary, but even if he survives, the seat will be fiercely contested. Arizona’s Jon Kyl could face difficulties if his state’s Latino community engages. 

Utah’s Orrin HatchOrrin HatchRift opens in GOP over budget strategy Overnight Finance: GOP divided over welfare cuts in budget | Lawmaker loses M on pharma stock he pitched | Yellen says another financial crisis unlikely in our lifetimes GOP chairman wants 'robust' tax reform process in the Senate MORE and Indiana’s Richard Lugar will likely face early retirement courtesy of the Tea Party, but those seats will remain in GOP hands.

On the other side, we can slot Nebraska’s Ben Nelson’s seat into the GOP column. No way he survives. The other Nelson — Bill in Florida — will be playing defense in a state that trended heavily against Democrats this November. 

Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowSenate Dem: 'We've got to stop the administration from sabotaging the private insurance market' No certainty on cost-sharing payments to insurers Dems express concerns about Trump's proposed rural development cuts MORE in Michigan has a tough 38-50 approve/disapprove rating, according to recent PPP polling. She’ll be a tough hold, as will Missouri freshman Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillMcCaskill attended reception at Russian ambassador's residence in 2015 Senators question need for HHS cyber office Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama DHS chief defends Russian hack response | Trump huddles on grid security | Lawmakers warned about cyber threat to election systems MORE, with an even rougher 40-53 approval rating. Three other freshmen Dems — Montana’s Jon TesterJon TesterOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Trump's 'regulatory czar' advances in Senate Gianforte causes stir after becoming newest House member MORE, Ohio’s Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownMajor progressive group rolls out first incumbent House endorsement Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief MORE and Virginia’s Jim Webb — will be prime targets. Republicans dominated all five states this year.

Will Kent Conrad run again in North Dakota? Even if he does, survival will be tough. West Virginia’s Joe ManchinJoe ManchinFood Network star honors veterans with dessert feast Dems face identity crisis This week: Senate races toward ObamaCare repeal vote MORE won his state’s special election this year against a terrible candidate. How will he fare in a presidential year against top-notch competition? He won’t get a pass. Herb Kohl just saw his colleague Russ Feingold get the boot in Wisconsin, and he’ll face similarly tough opposition. And I’m not resting easy if I’m Bob CaseyBob CaseyLive coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan Ryan Phillippe to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for military caregivers Dem senators seize on Senate press crackdown MORE in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico, Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinGraham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate Dem senators urged Obama to take action on Russia before election Senate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference MORE in California and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE in Washington state all sport solid approval numbers, but much can change. 

At the end of the day, Democrats have a realistic shot at Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, if Snowe is primaried into oblivion. They might have an outside shot in Arizona. Beyond that? Bleak.

Republicans will likely pick up Nebraska, and have top-tier pickup opportunities in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and maybe even Pennsylvania.

For the Democrats, the tough math is the price they’ll pay for their sweeping (and oftentimes narrow) wins in 2006.

Moulitsas is the founder of Daily Kos and author of American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right.