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.
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 HatchSenate Finance panel to hold Price hearing next week Overnight Finance: Price puts stock trading law in spotlight | Lingering questions on Trump biz plan | Sanders, Education pick tangle over college costs Trump Treasury pick gets support from ex-mortgage assistance leader 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 StabenowSanders, Dems defend ObamaCare at Michigan rally Dems push for outside witnesses at Mnuchin hearing Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' 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 McCaskillFive things to watch for in Mnuchin hearing Senators introduce dueling miners bills GOP must avoid Dems' mistakes when replacing ObamaCare MORE, with an even rougher 40-53 approval rating. Three other freshmen Dems — Montana’s Jon TesterJon TesterSenators introduce dueling miners bills Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' Dems attack Trump SEC pick's ties to Wall Street MORE, Ohio’s Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownFive things to watch for in Mnuchin hearing Overnight Finance: Smooth path for Commerce pick after hearing | Treasury nominee to defend foreclosure record | GOP tax turmoil Brown asks for FBI files tied to Mnuchin company 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 ManchinManning commutation sparks Democratic criticism Paul, Lee call on Trump to work with Congress on foreign policy Senate Democrats brace for Trump era 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: Tom Price's confirmation hearing Senate Democrats brace for Trump era Senators introduce dueling miners bills MORE in Pennsylvania.
Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico, Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinSenate seeks deal on Trump nominees Manning commutation sparks Democratic criticism Senate seeks deal on Trump nominees MORE in California and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDems seek more vetting for Trump nominees before hearings Four Washington electors refuse to vote for Clinton Dems concerned Trump trying to 'target' Energy Dept. employees 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.