2012 Election: The Senate

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems that even the Senate races are getting less attention than usual this year. I live in proximity to one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the country, and it’s gotten relatively little attention. It’s all the more amazing considering that almost half of the races are fairly competitive, and the gap between the parties is small. Currently, Republicans hold 47 seats while Democrats have 53 (including two independents that caucus with them). If Mitt Romney is elected, Republicans will need to pickup a net of three seats in order to win effective control of the Senate. Considering recent Senatorial history, Republicans would do well to win a few extra seats.

Since Democrats have to defend two-thirds of the seats up for election this cycle, it would seem that Republicans should have a good chance of winning back control of the Senate. Unfortunately a couple of key retirements and several inopportune gaffes have made the Republican road to Senate control all the more difficult.

All that said, I will briefly analyze each of the Senate races. With 33 seats up for grabs, I will be splitting up these posts in batches of 11 each, working my way through them alphabetically. So let’s get to it.

Arizona (open-R) – Republican: Jeff Flake. Democrat: Richard Carmona.

Flake is a six-term House incumbent running against former Surgeon General Richard Carmona to replace the retiring John Kyl. Arizona has long been a Republican stronghold. For years pundits have been waiting for the state to become purple, yet Republicans have managed to hang on state-wide for the most part. It hasn’t turned out to be a swing-state in terms of the presidential election, but Flake has struggled to put away Carmona. Arizona is the third toughest Republican-held Senate safe to defend this cycle, and I predict that they will be able to so – barely. Prediction: Republican hold.

California – Republican: Elizabeth Emken. Democrat: Diane Feinstein (Incumbent).

Not much to say here. Emken has gained no traction, and Feinstein continues to roll. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Connecticut (open I) – Republican: Linda McMahon. Democrat: Chris Murphy.

This has been a fascinating race. Considered to be a fairly safe seat for the Democrats, McMahon – who ran for this same seat in 2010 and lost to the vulnerable Richard Blumenthal by 11 points – suddenly surged in the polls after claiming the nomination. The two have been neck-and-nceck, with Murphy holding a slight edge. As was the case last time, McMahon’s tenure as CEO of the WWE has been a double-edged sword. While it’s certainly helped her campaign coffers, the nature of the wrestling business has bitten her. At the last debate, McMahon tried to boast of the history of job creation at WWE, but Murphy was able to hit back by citing that many of the employees were without benefits and had a habit of dying young. Despite polls showing Connecticut being more competitive in the presidential race than previously imagined, Murphy should be able to hold this for the Democrats. (Technically it would be a pickup, but Lieberman has been an independent in name only.) Prediction: Democrat hold/pickup.

Delaware – Republican: Kevin Wade. Democrat: Tom Carper (Incumbent).

There isn’t even a quirky candidate running to make this semi-compelling. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Florida – Republican: Connie Mack. Democrat: Bill Nelson (Incumbent).

If Republicans fail to capture the Senate, this might be one seat they look upon with regret. With Florida looking less and less like a swing state, and with the perpetually under-fire Nelson being challenged once again, this seems like a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP. Unfortunately Mack hasn’t gained much traction, and Nelson’s fairly moderate voting record keeps him relatively popular among Florida voters. Nelson has maintained a consistent lead since late August; however, two things may work in Mack’s favor. Though he has led throughout, Nelson has been unable to break the 50% mark, which is always a bad sign for incumbents. Further, if reports about the Obama campaign all but ceding the state are true, then that could diminish Democrat turnout on election day. So, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Mack wins in a squeaker. Prediction: Republican pickup.

Hawaii (open D) – Republican: Laura Lingle. Democrat: Mazie Hirono.

Lingle is a former two-term governor of the state, and she hopes to win the seat of retiring Senator Daniel Akaka. Lingle’s final term didn’t exactly end on a high note, and this state is still fairly solidly blue. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Indiana (open R) – Republican: Richard Mourdock. Democrat: Joe Donnelly.

Mourdock defeated Richard Lugar in the primary to set up this open seat showdown. Donnelly has hung tough with Mourdock, and this will be one of the tougher GOP seats to defend. On the other hand, Indiana is no longer a true battleground, and the Republicans should continue to have the upper hand. Prediction: Republican hold.

Maine (open R) – Republican: Charlie Summers. Democrat: Cynthia Dill. Independent: Angus King.

Despite her status as one of the most left-leaning Republicans in Congress, Olympia Snowe’s announced retirement was a blow to Republican chances to win back control of the Senate. Former governor Angus King’s entrance into the race then complicated things further. The seat has gone from a likely Republican hold with Snowe, to a likely Democrat pickup after Snowe’s announcement, to a likely win for an independent. Unlike with Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, it is not certain that King would caucus with Democrats, even if that is the more likely outcome. Control of the Senate could ultimately hinge on what King decides to do, assuming he wins – which he probably will. Prediction: Independent pickup/Republican loss.

Maryland – Republican Dan Bongino. Democrat: Ben Cardin (Incumbent).

In any other state Bongino would be a rising star. A former member of the Secret Service, Bongino is a charismatic, well-spoken conservative who reminds me somewhat of Marco Rubio. Ben Cardin is a backbencher with absolutely no accomplishments to speak of. But this is Maryland, and the only thing that matters is having a -D next your name. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Massachusetts – Republican: Scott Brown (Incumbent). Democrat: Elizabeth Warren.

This is a similar dynamic to Maryland in that in most states this wouldn’t be a contest. Brown is a personable moderate who shocked the world by winning the Kennedy seat in a special election two years ago. Fauxcahontas, meanwhile, is the spiritual forerunner of the “you didn’t build that” movement. On top of that, her unique interpretation of her genealogical lineage is the least of her ethical concerns. On the other hand, this is Massachusetts. It’s been a tight race, with Warren and Brown exchanging leads. Warren has pulled slightly ahead in recent weeks, but I think Brown has another comeback in him. Prediction: Republican hold.

 Michigan – Republican: Pete Hoekstra. Democrat: Debbie Stabenow (Incumbent).

Another race in which by rights the Republicans ought to be competitive, but Hoekstra has done nothing to get it close against the seemingly vulnerable Stabenow. Prediction: Democrat hold.

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Dante alighieri


  1. Only disgreements: I think the wrestling queen will take Connecticut. She has been polling well and Obama has been quite weak for a Democrat in the nutmeg state, Connecticut also has a fondness for quirky politicians, just ask Lowell Weicker. Romney has been showing a lead in one of Maine’s Congressional districts. I do not think it is impossible that the Independent and the Democrat will
    split the Democrat vote and the Republican will squeeze in, just as the current governor did in 2010. Hawaii is my prediction for Senate shocker of the night. I am expecting a Romney landslide against Obama. If that happens it could depress the Hawaii Dem vote enough for Lingle to get in.

  2. Of the three, the one that’s the closest call for me is Connecticut. I still think that the WWE baggage is going to be too much (and I say that as a regular viewer of Monday Night Raw), but it’s going to be close.

    In general, if Romney does win in a landslide – and I am with you there, Don – then I can see the Republicans winning all the close contests. Basically it would be 2006 in reverse.

  3. Interesting opening sentence. I may be wrong, but I think that the Senate isn’t getting much notice because so many races are close. Paradoxical, I know. Close races should get more press. But no one’s sure how to cover the story. “VIRGINIA RACE COULD GO EITHER WAY AND MAY NOT MATTER” is not a headline that any editor wants to see. As Barbie could tell you, math class is tough, and there’s a slow realization in the press that voter turnout complicates things. Like, the impact of Florida being uncontested is something I hadn’t thought about.

  4. Interesting point, Pinky, though I recall a lot of close races in 2004 and there seemed to be more coverage. Of course that could just be perception, and memories get hazier over eight years.

  5. Close in Massachusetts. I liked your, “this is Massachusetts, on the other hand.” observation.
    It’s a college student/professor on the rally scene place, from Ivy leagues to Community Colleges (and judiciary), where other voices are suppressed with disdain. Most media is partisan to the n-th degree, so the parents of the above are convinced and brainwashed, also. It is also a place of quieted residents who are mindful of equivocating politicians and media.

    The latest in ads shows E. Warren has begun “waving dead fetuses” with a bullet point on a Scott Brown vote on Roe v. Wade. Connecting dots is common school exercise, and a Harvard professor speaking passionately about amoral ‘rights’ of ‘women’ may cue men and others with a more sane agenda. I really hate that this whole nation is fed daily with coverups using ways and meanings of killing babies in all but those words.

  6. The reason the Senate races haven’t gotten much coverage is that the Media is obsessed with Obama. He is their Be All and End All. Also they know that if he is re- elected he will govern as if Congress didn’t exist.

  7. Can someone explain to me the reasoning of the bishops refusal to continue the teaching that it is a sin to deny a person their human rights? “Religious and racial prejudice” are sins against the 5th Commandment. And it is “particularly a sin to join an organization that does so, such as the Nazi Party or the KKK.” Cardinal X, I wouldn’t mention his name out of respect for his honest answers and his privacy, confirmed for my in an email recently that those are still the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Well, if it is a sin against the 5th commandment to join an organization that denies human rights, why is it not a sin to join the Democrat Party that is solely
    responsible for the murder of unborn babies? Write your bishops and ask them why. The answer I got was that “there is more to being a Democrat than that.” What more, I want to know!


    If we get an answer to that, maybe we can stop this game we are having to play every election, especially this one, to get so many people of a particular party elected in order to have a chance of stopping the murder of innocent human babies.

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