With 23 seats to defend next year versus 10 for the opposition, Democrats will not find it easy to preserve their shrinking Senate majority, political analyst Charlie Cook writes in the National Journal
Republicans need a net gain of four seats in the 2012 elections to retake control, and they have several opportunities for pickups.
The retirement of Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad sets up a Republican to succeed him in conservative North Dakota. Two-term Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska looks vulnerable to a GOP challenge. And given the political currents in Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb’s seat could return to Republicans whether he runs to keep it or not.
Webb is one of nine Democrats first elected to the Senate in 2006, what Cook calls “a great year for their party,” as compared to the different environment they are likely to face in 2012.
“Retirements, recruiting, campaign developments, and the economy will play huge roles in determining the outcome,” Cook cautions. “Still, simple math suggests that [Democrats’] hold on the majority is at risk.”
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