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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Can Republicans Take Control Of The Senate In The 2012 Elections?

By Susan Duclos

As was discussed in a previous posting, studies have shown that Democrats suffered losses in 2010 which were directly related to their Obamacare votes earlier that year.

While researching polling as to how the landscape looks for the upcoming Senate elections and given that the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Obamacare's constitutionality in late March and is expected to rule before November, putting the issue right back into the forefront of voter's minds, it is being noted just which Democratic incumbents voted for the controversial health care law in 2010.

Democratic Senate Seats for 2012 Elections:

California- Dianne Feinstein - Running - Voted for Obamacare
Delaware- Tom Carper- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Florida- Bill Nelson- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Hawaii- Daniel Akaka- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare
Maryland- Ben Cardin- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Michigan- Debbie Stabenow- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Minnesota- Amy Klobuchar- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Missouri- Claire McCaskill- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Montana- Jon Tester- Running- Voted for Obamacare
Nebraska- Ben Nelson- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare
New Jersey- Bob Menendez- Running - Voted for Obamacare
New Mexico- Jeff Bingaman- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare
New York- Kirsten Gillibrand - Running - Voted for Obamacare
North Dakota- Kent Conrad- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare
Ohio- Sherrod Brown- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Pennsylvania- Bob Casey, Jr.- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Rhode Island- Sheldon Whitehouse- Running - Voted for Obamacare
Virginia- Jim Webb- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare
Washington- Maria Cantwell- Running - Voted for Obamacare
West Virginia- Joe Manchin - Running - Replaced Robert C. Byrd in Nov. 2010
Wisconsin- Herb Kohl- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare

Independents that caucused with Democrats on Obamacare

Connecticut- Joe Lieberman- Retiring - Voted for Obamacare
Vermont- Bernie Sanders- Running- Voted for Obamacare

Republican Senate Seats for 2012 Elections:

Arizona- Jon Kyl- Retiring
Indiana- Richard Lugar- Running
Maine- Olympia Snowe- Retiring
Massachusetts- Scott Brown- Running
Mississippi- Roger Wicker- Running
Nevada Dean Heller- Running
Tennessee- Bob Corker- Running
Texas- Kay Bailey Hutchison- Retiring
Utah- Orrin Hatch- Running
Wyoming- John Barrasso- Running

No Republican voted for Obamacare.

Roll call for the 2010 Obamacare votes here.

Every Democratic incumbent, except West Virginia's Joe Manchin because he replaced Byrd after his death and wasn't part of the Obamacare vote, who is running for reelection voted for Obamacare in March of 2010.

There are ten listed open seats- Six Democrats, Three Republicans and One Independent that caucuses with Democrats, retiring.

POLLING DATA - 51 Seats Needed For Majority

Current Senate: 51 Democrats | 2 Independents | 47 Republicans

33 Senates Seats On November 2012 Ballots- 21 Dem Seats | 10 Rep Seats | 2 Independent Seats

According to the polling data, via Real Clear Politics, 5 seats are safely Republican. Those are Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

7 seats are safely Democrat. Those are California, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

That leaves 21 seats.

4 out of those 21 seats are "likely" or "leaning" Republican. 9 are "likely" or "leaning" Democrat.

This makes 37 Democratic seats safe or not on the ballot in 2012 with 9 that are likely or leaning Democrat totaling 46

This also makes 42 Republican seats safe or not on the ballot in 2012 with 4 that are likely or leaning Republican , totaling 46.

That leaves 8 toss up states that could potentially determine whether Democrats keep control of the Senate after the November 2012 elections or whether Republicans take control.

Those states are Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. (ME, VA and WI, all open seats due to retiring members)

Let's dig through the polling.

Florida Republicans are still battling in primary season mode to determine who will be the GOP candidate to go up against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R) is holding a lead against his Republican challengers.

Polling between Mack and Nelson show Nelson leading with an average of a 4.8 spread, using RCP averages. That spread is probably higher since one of the polls used in determining the spread appears to be an outlier. On the flip side, once a GOP candidate is nominated to go up against Nelson, polling numbers will be more predictive.

Maine- An open seat since Snowe (R) is retiring, is seeing both a Democratic Primary and a Republican primary but from the latest polling and Independent, Angus King, is leading by a wide margin when the survey assumed the two leading party candidates were in a match up with King. King comes in with 56 percent, Republican Charlie Summers with 22 percent and Democratic Matt Dunlap with 12 percent. To date, King is refusing to say whether he will caucus with Democrats or Republicans.

Massachusetts offers polling which traditionally is a better gauge of voter intent since it is local. Both the Boston Globe and Western New England University Polling Institute both have Scott Brown ahead of Elizabeth Warren by 2 and 8 points respectively. It is worth noting Boston Globe poll is within the margin of error which is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Missouri- Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is tied or behind each of the GOP challengers for her Senate seat. She ties in a match up with retired businessman John Brunner, 45 to 45 percent. She trails Congressman Todd Akin by 5 points, 48 to 43 percent. She also trails behind the leading Republican candidate former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman by 7 points, 49 to 42 percent.

Montana- Democratic incumbent Jon Tester is trailing behind Republican challenger Congressman Denny Rehberg by a narrow 2 and 3 point margin which has been consistent since late 2011 up to April 2012.

Nevada- Incumbent Republican Dean Heller is leading Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, by 7 points according to Rasmussen who polled "likely voters" and 3 points according to PPP which polled "registered voters." As the November election draws closer, the majority of polling organizations will be using the likely voter model because it is more predictive.

Virginia- An open seat since Jim Webb (D) is retiring, is a mixed bag of tricks since the most recent two polls include local polling from Roanoke College, which has Republican George Allen ahead of Democrat Tim Kaine by 7 percentage points using registered voters, but Rasmussen using the more predictive likely voter model shows that lead to be a narrower 2 point lead.

Wisconsin- An open seat since Herb Kohl (D) is retiring. The Republican primary polls show a significant double digit lead for Tommy Thompson against the other Republican challengers Jeff Fitzgerald and Mark Neumann.

When Thompson is matched up with the Democratic challenger Tammy Baldwin, Marquette University in February using registered voters, Thompson came out ahead by 7 points. PPP, also in February and using registered voters, puts Baldwin ahead by 1 point.

The only March polling so far has been from Rasmussen, using likely voters, which puts former Governor Thompson with a 4 point lead over Baldwin, 48 to 44 percent.

While there is no way to predict what will happen over the next seven months until the November elections, the question of whether Republicans can take control of the Senate after looking into the polling data to date for the toss up states, leads me to believe the answer is yes, they can.

Especially if the Republicans going up against Democratic incumbents, take full advantage of Obamacare once again being in the spotlight and remind voters relentlessly that those same Democrats voted for the individual mandate.