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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 HatchSupreme Court wrestles with corruption law IRS: Annual unpaid tax liability was 8B Hatch asks Treasury for memo that decreases transparency of tax rules 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 StabenowOvernight Energy: Flint aid attached to water bill 0 million Flint aid package included in water bill Senate Finance panel announces mental health hearing 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 McCaskillBill would target retaliation against military sexual assault victims Senate Dem takes on drugmaker: ‘It’s time to slaughter some hogs’ Week ahead: Drug pricing back in focus MORE, with an even rougher 40-53 approval rating. Three other freshmen Dems — Montana’s Jon TesterJon TesterElizabeth Warren stumps, raises funds for Duckworth Senators subpoena EPA officials over mine waste spill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE, Ohio’s Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownLawmaker offers bill to impose 'exit tax' on expatriating companies For Clinton, there's really only one choice for veep Let the Democratic veepstakes begin 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 ManchinWest Virginia Dem defends Clinton support despite coal remarks Reid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell Bill Clinton heckled in W.Va. 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 CaseyObama-backed Dem makes gains in Pa. primary Senate introduces tariff relief bill Lawmakers react to Villanova's buzzer-beater NCAA win MORE in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico, Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment MORE in California and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellThis week: Congress on track to miss Puerto Rico deadline Week ahead: Senate looks to wrap up energy, water spending bill Senate, House face time crunch on energy bill 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.