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With Republicans the odds-on favorite to take control of the Senate in 2012, why would a popular Republican Senator in a red state call it quits?

Kay Bailey Hutchison will not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

In a letter to supporters, Hutchison said she enjoyed serving Texas.

"I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2012," she wrote to supporters. "That should give the people of Texas ample time to consider who my successor will be."

Perhaps it had something to do with this:

Hutchison's approval rating with Republicans on our last Texas [PPP] poll was just 58%. To put that number into some perspective Lisa Murkowski's approval with Republicans in January of 2010 was 77% and Mike Castle's in March of 2009 was 69%. They both started out in a much better position against their Tea Party opposition than Hutchison would have, and they both lost anyway. A poll we conducted in September of 2010 found that only 25% of Republicans in Texas would support Hutchison for renomination to 62% who preferred a 'more conservative' challenger.

The only question now is how many more Republicans will fall to teabagger opposition.

Among GOP Senators up for reelection next year we've found a 71% approval rating for Arizona's Jon Kyl with Republicans, a 53% approval rating for Maine's Olympia Snowe with them, a 74% approval rating for Massachusetts' Scott Brown with them, a 59% approval rating for Nevada's John Ensign with them, and an 84% approval rating for Wyoming's John Barrasso with them.

With the exception of Barrasso every single one of those folks has worse numbers with Republicans than Murkowski did just seven months prior to losing the primary, and most of them have numbers pretty comparable to where Castle's were as well.

There's no way Snowe survives as a Republican. It's only a matter of when, not if she switches parties or becomes an independent. Ensign is toast. PPP hasn't polled him, but Utah's Orrin Hatch is toast. Brown has riled up his local wingnuts, and will likely face a serious primary challenge. Kyl is likely the safest of this bunch, other than the invisible Barrasso.

Hutchison got a taste of her state's GOP electorate while getting crushed in her primary battle for governor last year. That's why she was the first. She couldn't be in denial about her chances.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 11:26 AM PST.

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