If we are counting correctly, the next general election in the United States will take place in about eighteen months on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Between now and then there will be a great many nomination races not only to see who the Republicans put up against President Obama but also for House and Senate seats in both parties.
And then comes the general election itself, which will determine the composition of the executive and legislative branches of our government. In other words, many, many contests to think about.
It's occurred to us here at The Reaction that it might be useful to begin wrapping our heads around some of the more important or, to put it differently, more hotly-contested races.
As a starting point, we thought we would look at the United States Senate, which, as any grade school child knows, elects a third of its membership of 100 every two years, who then get to serve six-year terms. In other words, those 33 who will be elected on November 6, 2012 will serve from January 3, 2013 to January 2, 2019.
At the moment, Democrats control the Upper House by a margin of 53-47, which means that the GOP would need to win 3 or 4 seats to take control, depending on who wins the White House because the President of the Senate, who is also Vice President of the United States, gets to break a tie.
Unless something changes, Democrats are expected to have 23 seats up for election, which include two independents, who caucus with the Democrats, while the Republicans have only 10 seats up for election.
Predicting what things will look like in a year and a half can be dodgy business, but the simple fact that far more Democratic seats need to be contested might suggest that there is greater potential for Republicans to win back the Senate. It may also be true that some Senate seats currently held by Democrats are in states which are more traditionally Republican.
In any case, our goal here is to have a look at some of these races to see how things are developing and to provide some background to educate ourselves and to perhaps solicit some comments from those who may be closer, both geographically and in terms of intimate knowledge, to some of these races. That would be fine too.
Just to have a starting point, here are 17 of the 33 Senate races that could bare some scrutiny, either because they could flip to the other party or because they could be seriously contested in nomination battles. Others, of course, may be interesting for all sorts of reasons.
Listed is the incumbent and his or her status:
Republicans who are retiring (or have resigned):
- Nevada: John Ensign has resigned; U.S. Rep. Dean Heller (R) has been appointed to fill out the term
- Arizona: John Kyl
Republicans who are running again:
Democrats who are retiring:
Democrats who are running again:
- Florida: Bill Nelson
- Michigan: Debbie Stabenow
- Ohio: Sherrod Brown
- Missouri: Clair McCaskill
- Montana: John Tester
- Nebraska: Ben Nelson
- Pennsylvania: Bob Casey
- West Virginia: Joe Manchin
So, that'll keep us busy for a while and along the way we fully expect to get to some of the more interesting House and gubernatorial races -- in fact, we've already started. It will be, we are sure, a very interesting year and a half.
(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost)