Thursday, November 1, 2012

One Hundred Mini-Presidents: November 2012 Edition

As is the case every two years, approximately one-third of the Senate is up for re-election in 2012.  Below is what I think (as of now, November 1st) the outcome on November 6th will be.  Since the last version of this post, the outlooks for four contests have changed significantly. I've moved one Democratic-held seat (VA) from tossup flip to tossup hold. I've moved one Democratic-held seat (CT) from certain hold to tossup hold.  I've moved one Republican-held seat (IN) from Republican hold to Democratic flip.  And I've moved one Republican-held seat (AZ) from certain hold to tossup hold .  The result will be three D-to-R flips (MT, ND, NE) and three R-to-D flips (IN, MA, ME), with the final distribution for the next Congress 53-47 in favor of the Democrats (which includes the two Independents).  Previously I viewed VA as a flip and IN as a hold, resulting in a 51-49 partisan split.  I think the best outcome possible for the Democrats is 55-45 (winning in AZ, MT) and the worst is 50-50 (losing in CT, IN, VA).

The main reason for the changes is that the Republican candidates have been worse than I expected.  Flake, Mourdock, and Allen (plus Aiken in MO) are all terribly unlikable, so they've turned off independents.  On the other hand, McMahon in CT has done better than I expected, most likely because she's given herself huge amounts of money (over $42M so far).  I would like to see more of the western Democrats win (Carmona, Berkeley), but the polling doesn't show that they have much of a chance.   For two candidates where the polling is close (Heitkamp, Tester) I think their states are still too Republican for them to win on the same ticket as Obama.  For the other other three (Murphy, Kaine, Baldwin) their states are sufficiently purple or blue that they will win.  Donnelly, like McCaskill a few months ago, has been gifted a win because the Republican candidate said something vile about rape.

The Democratic caucus is likely to be more liberal after this election, with the additions of Murphy, Warren, and Baldwin, coupled with the losses of Lieberman, Conrad, Nelson, and Tester.  Hirono, Heinrich, and Kaine are likely to vote in roughly similar fashion to their predecessors, and King will reprise Lieberman's role as an annoyance that frequently provides a helpful vote.  Donnelly will be the sole conservative newcomer, though naturally he will be more liberal than the Republican he will replace. If Reid and the Democrats decide to ditch the filibuster (strong emphasis on "if") in 2013, at least judges and the like will be Democrats, and possibly even liberal Democrats on occasion.  The importance of those positions should not be underestimated.  Ditching the filibuster would also shift legislative control away from Conservadems (Pryor, Carper, Landrieu, McCaskill, Hagen, Manchin) who are numerous enough to give Republicans effective control on many issues if the filibuster remains.  But even if the rule is removed, the overall legislative environment would remain poor for most of the policies I'd like to see changed because the Republicans are likely to narrowly retain control of the House.

2011-2012 seats5347
Certain holdsCalifornia (Feinstein)
Delaware (Carper)
Hawaii (open D to Hirono)
Maryland (Cardin)
Michigan (Stabenow)
Minnesota (Klobuchar)
New Jersey (Menendez)
New York (Gillibrand)
Rhode Island (Whitehouse)
Vermont (Sanders*)
Washington (Cantwell)
West Virginia (Manchin)
Mississippi (Wicker)
Tennessee (Corker)
Texas (open R to Cruz)
Utah (Hatch)
Wyoming (Barasso)

Likely holdsFlorida (Nelson)
Pennsylvania (Casey)
New Mexico (open D to Heinrich)
Ohio (Brown)
Nevada (Heller)

TossupsConnecticut (open D to Murphy)
Missouri (McCaskill)
Wisconsin (open D to Baldwin)
Virginia (open D to Kaine)
Arizona (open R to Flake)
Montana (Tester (D) to Rehberg)

Likely flipsIndiana (R*** to Donnelly) 
Massachusetts (Brown (R) to Warren)
Maine (open R to King**)
Nebraska (open D to Fischer)
North Dakota (open D to Berg)
2012 results2310
2013-2014 seats5347

* Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
** King is an independent who will probably caucus with the Democrats if there is a tie; otherwise he'll side with the winner so as to get a little more clout for his state.
*** Mourdock defeated Lugar in the Republican primary, and will lose the seat for Republicans.

Update 2012-11-02: Added sentence about Donnelly.
Update 2012-11-05: Corrected Baucus to Conrad.

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