Republicans woke up this morning with a spring in their step: Sens. Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd both said they wouldn't run for another term. But the news may turn out to be an electoral wash. North Dakota governor John Hoeven, a Republican, is expected to run for Dorgan's seat and win handily. This moves North Dakota into the "Likely Republican Takeover" column. But popular Connecticut AG Dick Blumenthal, a Democrat, is expected to announce tomorrow that he'll run for Dodd's seat, and an early poll shows him winning by 30 points. This moves Connecticut into the "Likely Democratic Retention" column.
The retirement news has left Senate majority leader Harry Reid as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent; Reid has a high disapproval rating and trails his Republican challengers in polls.
Meanwhile, Republican chances of flipping Democratic seats in Delaware, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Colorado also look good. And with the right candidate, the GOP could also be competitive in the New York, California, and Arkansas races. Heck, the GOP seems to be competitive in Massachusetts right now.
So let's follow Toby Harnden's lead and say Republicans hold on to seats in Florida, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, Louisiana, and Missouri. And let's say they sweep the competitions listed above.
Even if the Republicans sweep the field without losing any ground--this probably won't happen--Harnden notes that the GOP would control 49 seats and the Democrats would control 51. Harnden:
But what if Joe Lieberman (I) flipped to the Republican party? Very possible, particularly if he was induced with a juicy committee chairmanship.
That would mean 50-50. But still Vice-President Joe Biden would hold the casting vote.
Even in this (wildly optimistic) scenario, then, Republicans still wouldn't control the Senate.
Unless, of course, Scott Brown defeats Martha Coakley this month in Massachusetts ...