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Shrinking Senate Hopes

A GOP takeover is looking more difficult.

Feb 20, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 22 • By FRED BARNES
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Three other Democratic seats are vulnerable. No state has trended Republican in recent years more than Missouri. John McCain narrowly beat Obama in Missouri in 2008. Roy Blunt won the open Senate seat there in 2010 by 14 percentage points. So it’s no surprise that Democratic senator Claire McCaskill is in deep trouble this year. The Republican Senate primary is August 7.

Wisconsin is more Democratic, but it offers Republicans a great opportunity. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate, is gay, liberal, and a zealous campaigner. Either of the GOP candidates, former governor Tommy Thompson or ex-House member Mark Neumann, could beat her. When Neumann gave up his House seat in 1998 to run (unsuccessfully) for the Senate, by the way, he was replaced by Paul Ryan.

In Hawaii, Democrat Dan Akaka is stepping down after three terms, and there’s only one Republican with a realistic chance of winning his seat, former governor Linda Lingle. Fortunately for Republicans, Lingle is running. She didn’t have to buck a Democratic tide in a presidential year when she won the governorship in 2002 and 2006. With Obama, a native of Hawaii, leading the ticket, she’ll have to overcome a strong partisan headwind. 

Where does this leave us? Duffy projects a Republican gain of three to six seats. The Rothenberg Report says two to five. A year ago, I’d have said four to seven. Today, three to six seems about right, with emphasis on the three. But my rule of politics is that the future is never a straight line projection of the present. In November, Republican prospects may look better—or worse.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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