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December 28, 2011 06:41 PM UTC

Do Democrats Maintain Control of the Senate?

  • by: Konola

Yesterday Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced that he would not run for reelection in 2012. Since he is a Democrat, TV pundits have been announcing the end of Democratic control in the Senate. Nelson was not dependable when it came to voting with his caucus, so my gut reaction was no big loss. Another local pundit cautioned to be careful what you wish for, essentially agreeing with all the pundits.

After reading that blog late last night, I decided the first thing I would do this morning was find out what Nate Silver had to say on the issue. The first thing he said was that polling on Senate seats isn’t robust enough to plug into his model, which was based on baseball models for predicting winners. If it were closer to Election Day, he would be more confident in his predictions.

Bottom Line, Nate Silver agreed with the TV Pundits that Democrats could very well lose the Senate in 2012. In reading his analysis, one race especially stood out for me-Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Warren, champion of the middle class and a Democrat, is running against Scott Brown in Massachusetts for the seat that belonged to Teddy Kennedy for six decades. Silver calls that race a toss-up, but puts it in the Republican column in his final prediction. According to a Reuters poll, which was conducted December 1 – 6, Warren leads Brown 49% to 42%. That is a seven point lead in a poll with a 5.3% margin of error. Given that the lead is outside the margin of error by 1.7 points, I would have placed the win in the Democrat’s column.

Unlike Nate Silver, I didn’t consider every other Senate candidate poll or the trends on a state by state basis in coming to my optimistic conclusion, but I’m predicting that, thanks to Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats will neutralize the loss of Nelson.  


8 thoughts on “Do Democrats Maintain Control of the Senate?

  1. It’s customary to provide a link to something if you are discussing it.

    And to answer the question of your headline: Yes. Democrats do control the U.S. Senate.

    Will they control it after the 2012 elections? Perhaps. But that’s the actual question.  

    1. It’s pretty clear that is the question the diarist is asking. A link to Silver’s breakdown would have been nice. Agree with you on that.

      I’m not in the camp that it’s great Nelson is not running for re-election. I am no fan of his, particularly because he had one of the worst records of any Democrat in the Senate in votes for Democratic causes (I think he hovers around 55% in voting with Dems).

      However, having him in the Senate and caucusing with the Senate gives Dems control of committee chairmanships and also gives them control over what reaches a final vote on the Senate floor. So, losing Nebraska is not entirely good news. We just need to make up for our loss there by picking up seats elsewhere and we have a couple of great opportunities.

      With the lack of the need to spend funds in Nebraska to try and save Nelson who was polling weakly, we can use that money in Massachusetts and Nevada instead, where we have two really strong candidates and potential pick ups.  

  2. I see lots of voters holding their nose to vote for Obama and then punishing him down ticket by voting for Republican candidates. (The “Hickenlooper Effect”)

    I’m positive that if the Republicans do take the Senate you will see a big push to pass “The Nuclear Democracy Option.”. These are the times we live in . . .  

  3. If Democrats retain control of the Senate it will be thanks to continued Republican obstruction and right-wing primary challenges.

    This is a bad year for Democrats in Senate elections; we’re playing defense on a number of seats that are vulnerable, and we have a number of retirements in those races that will make it even tougher.  There are 10 Republican held seats up this year; 7 of those races are likely retentions, one only a lean, and only two (NV and MA) are toss-ups.  There are 23 Democratic seats up this year (including both Independent held seats); 13 of those are pretty safe, 3 are lean D, 5 are rated toss-ups, and 2 lean toward a Republican pick-up.  If Democrats want to retain control of the Senate, they should aim to pick up both the Republican toss-ups and hold fast to their own toss-up matches; the D wildcards would be holding either of the two seats likely to switch to Republican hands(ND and NE), possibly picking up AZ where Jon Kyl is retiring, or hoping for a Tea Party upset in some other state, giving Democrats an opening.

    I’m mixed on the retirement of Nelson; he’s a pain when it comes to counting votes, and he gives cover to the word “bipartisan” on some parts of the Republican agenda.  Having him gone means we’re not counting full seats as D when it comes to MSM reporting of our majority.  But he was still a D vote for the majority leader.  The craziest rumors out there are having Chuck Hagel switch parties and run on the Democratic ticket, or having Bob Kerrey come back for another run.

    On the bright side, we have the opportunity to pick up the MA-Sen seat temporarily held by Scott Brown, and Elizabeth Warren seems like the kind of Democrat we really need to start filling more seats.  And we’ll likely be replacing I (but counted as D) Joe Lieberman with someone more reliably Democratic in nature as well.

  4. never been lower.

    My best guess is narrow D leads in the House and the Senate with a narrow Obama re-elect.  It is hard to see the GOP misplaying its cards worse than they have this election cycle so far.

    1. The GOP still maintains a pretty good hold on the framing of news; if news outlets and talk radio reported tough and fair rather than “balanced” news or biased “news”, the GOP would be deep in the throes of party death and rebirth.  Instead it’s holding on to a near-majority despite its continued march toward (or is it past) insanity.

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