For a time it looked like the Democrats might expand their Senate majority in 2010. But the winds of politics have started to turn towards the Republicans. Reports National Journal:
The death of Edward Kennedy has given the Democrats a real — if short-term — look at life in the Senate without 60 votes. Given the worsening political environment for the party and President Obama, it looks more possible than ever that Republicans can keep Democrats under 60 in 2011-12 as well.
On paper, the GOP has more vulnerable seats on the table than do Democrats. They have to defend open seats in two states carried by Obama (Ohio and New Hampshire) and one in a state Obama barely lost (Missouri). Republicans breathed a sigh of relief when Sen. Jim Bunning, their most vulnerable incumbent, chose to retire. Even so, holding the seat isn’t a slam dunk. Meanwhile, Democrats have just one open seat in real danger today (Illinois) and just one incumbent, Connecticut’s Christopher Dodd, who has been running consistently behind his potential GOP opponents in polling. Both of those states, of course, are deep blue.
Yet it’s also clear that as Obama’s job approval ratings fall, it’s taking a toll on Democratic incumbents who, earlier this year, were seen as relatively safe. New polls show Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Harry Reid (Nev.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) as vulnerable. A GOP poll released in late July showed popular North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven (R) handily beating Sen. Byron Dorgan (D).
It’s still 14 months till the election. But President Barack Obama’s increasing travails are likely to boost GOP fortunes.
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