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After a fabulous night of eating popcorn and chortling at the TV, I had a good night's sleep and floated through the next day. But now that the 2012 election has come and gone, time to look ahead to 2014.

The Democrats pulled off a miracle in the 2012 Senate races. In a normal cycle control of the Senate might have been lost. Retirements of sitting Democrats left seven seats open, but the Democrats put up strong candidates who ran top notch campaigns and held the seats. Daniel Akaka - HI to Mazie Hirono, Herb Kohl - WI to Tammy Baldwin, Jeff Bingaman - NM to Martin Heinrich, Kent Conrad - ND to Heidi Heitkamp, Jim Webb - VA to Tim Kaine, and the odious Joe Lieberman - CT to Chris Murphy. Only Bob Kerrey lost in Nebraska, by 16 points. He was the best possible recruit, but Nebraska was just too red to really have any chance of holding retiring Ben Nelson's seat.

Joe Manchin in WV and Kirsten Gillibrand in NY followed up special election wins with solid holds. Of the other defending incumbents Claire McCaskill should have been a dead duck, but Todd Akin started talking about legitimate rape and his campaign promptly imploded. Jon Tester in MT did a solid job and held on for a narrow win. And the rest won more or less comfortably.

On the offensive side there was two solid pick up chances. Elizabeth Warren knocked off special election winner Scott Brown for Ted Kennedy’s old seat. And Angus King easily won the Maine seat that opened after Olympia Snowe’s retirement. The next best pick up try was Richard Carmona against Jeff Flake for the seat Jon Kyle was retiring from in Arizona. Carmona trailed early but had caught up when a gaffe in a debate doomed him. And Shelley Berkley was hurt by a trumped up scandal and couldn’t close on Dean Heller in NV. There shouldn’t have been any other chances, but Dick Lugar went down to Tea Partyier Richard Mourdock in the Indiana Republican primary. Mourdock was holding a small lead over Joe Donnelly when Mourdock started talking about god’s rape babies and his campaign promptly imploded.

When all was said and done the Democrats had picked up seats in Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana, while losing only in Nebraska for a miraculous net gain of two seats (assuming Angus King caucuses with them).

But what does 2014 hold?

Class 2 of the Senate will be up for election (along with any special elections). The current split is 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans. It should be a slightly easier situation (fewer defenses, more pick up opportunities) than the most recent election, but is it really?

The sitting President's party usually looses seats in the midterm election, the preponderance of Democratic seats will give the Republicans targets to go after, and the Republican seats that are up are deep red.

Here are the Democratic Senators who will be running (or not) in 2014 and a quick analysis.

Mark Begich - Alaska (red state, battleground)
Mark Pryor - Arkansas (red state, but popular, maybe battleground)
Mark Udall - Colorado (blue state, likely hold)
Chris Coons - Delaware (blue state, likely hold)
Dick Durbin - Illinois (blue state, likely hold)
Tom Harkin - Iowa ( blue state, likely hold if he runs, he will be 75)
Mary Landrieu - Louisiana (red state, battleground)
John Kerry - Massachusetts (blue state, solid hold  for any Dem)
Carl Levin - Michigan (retiring, open seat, blue state, maybe battleground)
Al Franken - Minnesota (blue state, but GOP hates him, expect top tier challenger backed by tens of millions)
Max Baucus - Montana (red state, but popular, maybe battleground)
Jeanne Shaheen - New Hampshire (blue state, likely hold, but small state could draw moneyed contender)
Frank Lautenberg - New Jersey (blue state, he will be 90, likely hold by any Dem)
Tom Udall - New Mexico (blue state, likely hold)
Kay Hagan - North Carolina (red state, battleground)
Jeff Merkley - Oregon (blue state, likely hold)
Jack Reed - Rhode Island (blue state, likely hold)
Tim Johnson - South Dakota (red state, but popular, maybe battleground, lost if he retires for health (stroke) )
Mark Warner - Virginia (blue state, likely hold)
Jay Rockefeller - West Virginia (red state, but popular, likely hold if he runs, he will be 79)

Assuming nothing catastrophic happens, there will be about six Democratic Senate seats in toss up battles. So a loss of three seats would be the norm.

Now a look at pick up opportunities among the GOP’s 2014 seats.

Jeff Session - Alabama (deep red state, strong hold)
Saxby Chambliss - Georgia (red state, likely hold)
Jim Risch - Idaho (red state, likely hold)
Pat Roberts - Kansas (deep red state, strong hold)
Mitch McConnell - Kentucky (red state, likely hold)
Susan Collins - Maine (blue state, but she is popular, GOP hold if she runs)
Thad Cochran - Mississippi (deep red state, strong hold)
Mike Johanns - Nebraska (deep red state, strong hold)
Jim Inhofe - Oklahoma (deep red state, strong hold)
Lindsey Graham - South Carolina (deep red state, strong hold)
Lamar Alexander - Tennessee (red state, likely hold)
John Cornyn - Texas (deep red state, strong hold)
Mike Enzi - Wyoming (deep red state, strong hold)

Pick up opportunities? Probably none. Maine, if Collins retires. President Obama polled somewhere in the mid 40s in Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. If the GOP candidate starts talking about rape in one of those states, a Democrat might lose by only single digits.

Bottom line: the Democrats are likely to loose 2 to 4 Senate seats in 2014, but they should keep control thanks to the GOP implosion this year. And Joe Biden is the tie breaker if need be. Looking even further ahead, 2016 will be a growth year for the Senate Democrats as the seats are split 10 - 24 with several vulnerable targets to go after.

4:47 PM PT: Quick update. Amy Klobuchar easily crushed some putz named Bills (Oh No, Mr Bills) in Minnesota. This is because the Republicans could not field a quality candidate. All top tier Republicans knew that Klobuchar would beat them handily and decided to save their energy to take out Senator Al Franken or Governor Mark Dayton in 2014.

The Minnesota Republican Senate primary will be a dog fight. Hopefully they will tear each other apart. All of them will be confident that they can beat a comic who won by only 312 votes. Heck, Franken was losing votes to the Lizard People. The Republicans also think that a Political Science degree Cum Laude from Harvard can be found on the back of a cereal box.

But make no mistake. The Republicans hate, hate, HATE Al Franken. They probably have direct orders from Rush Limbaugh to destroy him. Franken has angered just about every big money backer on the right. You can expect that whoever the Republican challenger is that they will have tens of millions in outside backing. Sherrod Brown got hit by $40 million in outside attack ads. I expect Franken to face about the same.

The Minnesota Senate race will be a bloodbath. Minnesota is very blue, but it will be a battleground state because of the intensity the Republicans will bring.

But Franken is smart, and so are most Minnesotans. In fact they get insulted when outsiders meddle. Take a look at the two constitutional amendments that went down to defeat. A tidal wave of outside money might actually turn people against the Republicans. Expecially since they have been rocked by sex and money scandals over the last year.

Minnesota should be rated a "likely hold". But with the special circumstances I would call it a "somewhat likely" hold for 2014.

One more note, looking further ahead. One of the potential pick ups in 2016 is Mark Kirk's Illinois Senate seat. Kirk suffered a major stroke and has been rehabbing, so it is hard to guess Kirk's plans. But that is Obama's old seat. I wonder if he would want it back.

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Comment Preferences

  •  doesnt look good - filibuster reform ASAP!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83
  •  I hope Ginsberg is paying attention (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pistolSO, poopdogcomedy, bear83

    Liberal Justices who are considering retiring should do so before the Senate turns over.  It sure looks like the Senate will be less progressive after 2014.

  •  Man (0+ / 0-)

    Thank god for this year. Otherwise, we'd likely lose the senate for sure next time out. Obviously, it's way early, but I don't see any pick ups absent scandal. Only potential is Maine if Collins retires.

  •  Virginia - may actually not go this way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, NH Flaming Moderate

    Warner is looking at running for governor next year in 2013.  I think Warner can win that, and then we'll have a special election to replace him.  Terry McCauliffe might run, but really Virginia is purple and there's not a lot of bench strength yet. Republicans will run either Bollinger (current LT Gov) - Cucinelli (current AG) although one of these will have run for governor as well.

    We need Angus King, as I think we will likely lose 4 seats. Pryor, Baucus, Hagan and one of Johnson or Rockefeller as I see both retiring.

    Frankly, I won't miss Baucus.

    Then, yes, in 2016:

    McCain - probably retires, possible pick up
    Rubio - possible Crist rematch?
    Kirk - IL - definite pickup potential for Dems
    Ayotte - NH - definite pickup potential
    Portman - OH - possible pickup
    Toomey - PN - possible pickup
    Johnson - WI - possible pickup

    Dems - all pretty solid

    So, we could pick back up 3 or 4 seats in 2016.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:56:11 AM PST

    •  MA Senate seat could easily go to Repugs. (0+ / 0-)

      If Kerry becomes SoS, then Scott Brown will run and probably regain the Senate seat.

      •  Meh (0+ / 0-)

        Fact is, Warren would have won by a bigger margin had she not been a woman. Brown could try again, but he hurt himself with a lot of the crap he pulled in the last month of the race.

        As long as the Democrats can coalesce around one candidate, I don't see losing Kerry's eat. The Coakley debacle was a lesson learned.

        Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

        by absdoggy on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:30:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  McConnell has always had close wins (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poopdogcomedy

    in general elections though.   So while Kentucky is a red state, they do elect Democrats statewide and McConnell is worried about a teabagger primarying him(that's why he has hired some of Rand Paul's people for his campaign).  So Kentucky could be a battleground if we have a strong Democratic challenger(maybe Chandler even though he lost his seat on Tuesday) and we have the right circumstances in 2014.

    In SC, Lindsay Graham could also be challenged from the right.   He's a conservative but not where near as nutty as DeMint or Joe "You Lie!" Wilson.   Under the right circumstances, I think Graham could be convinced to go Indie and work more with Democrats.

    And I really hope we get somebody good to run in Texas.   After watching something yesterday, I had this thought that I wanted to see Cecile Richards run.   I'd also support a Julian Castro run(but seeing him run against Rick Perry might be better.)

  •  Thx (0+ / 0-)

    for this list - its very early but good to know . The field is difficult in a midterm

    "How many years since you found yourself staring at an endless sky? " VNV Nation - Endless Skies

    by Kavalor on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:10:28 AM PST

  •  Nice summary n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  If Kerry goes to State, who is on the MA bench? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xsonogall, Odysseus

    Slightly off-topic (but still on the subject of (potential) upcoming Senate elections:

    If John Kerry becomes Secretary of State, who do the Democrats have on the Massachusetts bench for the subsequent Senate election?

  •  Collins will get primaried (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poopdogcomedy, Odysseus, raatz

    if she runs again, and if she does she's toast. I'd guess she'll likely retire.

    •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

      Maine is a blue, independent-minded state.  I'm really not sure how the GOP could primary Susan Collins as the same thing happened to Lincoln Chafee in 2006 and he survived only to loose re-election to Sheldon Whitehouse.  However, if the GOP is successful in doing so, there's no question this will be an easy pick-up for the Democrats.

      •  Snowe retired rather than face a TeaManiac primary (0+ / 0-)

        I agree with you that (right now anyway) "Maine is a blue, independent-minded state" but that isn't the point. The point is that Maine's Republican primary voters are very Tea, and if Collins runs it'll be just like Indiana was this year.

        •  I'm curious as to what will happen (0+ / 0-)

          The 2014 race isn't that far off although it's still way early to make judgement calls.  Even with the Tea Party Republicans in Maine, they might as well move out of the state because their cause really isn't working there.  On the other hand, Maine's current Governor is an idiot and how he got elected I have NO idea.  Well, actually, didn't he get elected in 2010?

  •  I think we may be thinking a bit prematurely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pistolSO

    I think your analysis is appropriate but even so, I think we're evaluating everything strictly from an ideological perspective and not from a communication perspective (as in, how can candidates reach out and make a difference for constituents now and until November 2014.

    That being said, here's my take on your list:

    Mark Begich - Alaska (likely battleground although I'm not sure what Begich's popularity level is)
     Mark Pryor - Arkansas (possibly a competitive race but it depends on whether or not Pryor ends up being bipartisan
     Mark Udall - Colorado (Colorado isn't a blue state, not anywhere near it right now although it isn't a red state either.  However, Udall shouldn't see much competition)
     Chris Coons - Delaware (I'd say this is a safe hold.  Nothing to worry about here)
     Dick Durbin - Illinois (Like Coons, a safe hold.  Nothing to worry about here)
     Tom Harkin - Iowa (Providing Harkin runs again, this race shouldn't be worried about too much.  He's a popular Senator in the state and has been for a long time)
     Mary Landrieu - Louisiana (Landrieu is a moderate, not a divisive figure.  Louisiana may be red but it's not red like Kansas.  We'll likely to see a race but I think Landrieu should pull it off in the end.)
     John Kerry - Massachusetts (Not a single challenger can debate Kerry effectively so I'd say we shouldn't even be talking about this as a race)
     Carl Levin - Michigan (Battleground?  I'd say far less likely although if Levin is retiring, it depends on who is running.  So far in the past ten or so years, not a single Senate race in Michigan has gone to Republican's favor)
     Al Franken - Minnesota (GOP may hate him but on the other hand, Franken beat Norm Coleman who really pissed off a lot of Paul Wellstone supporters by saying he would have been a better Senator than Wellstone.  It will be hard for the GOP to find a challenger to Franken because he's a popular Senator, very bright and of course has his trademark witty sense of humor.  I'm not worried here)
     Max Baucus - Montana (I don't see this as a battleground at all.  Baucus was elected in 2002 and 2008 comfortably with no real challengers.)
     Jeanne Shaheen - New Hampshire (I agree.  It's a likely hold and Shaheen is a well-known figure in New Hampshire long even before she became a U.S. Senator)
     Frank Lautenberg - New Jersey (If he runs again and I think it would be crazy, this will be a safe hold.  Nothing to worry about here)
     Tom Udall - New Mexico (Likely hold.  I don't envision any problems here.  New Mexico is becoming more of a blue state every year)
     Kay Hagan - North Carolina (Definitely a battleground although given Claire Mccaskill's win in Missouri, anything can happen)
     Jeff Merkley - Oregon (Safe hold.  Oregon is VERY blue, friendly to progressives.  It would take a liberal Republican like Lincoln Chafee to beat Merkley but then again, liberal Republicans are now Democrats these days)
     Jack Reed - Rhode Island (I'm not sure why likely hold is even being looked at here.  Rhode Island is one of the top 5 bluest states in the U.S.  Republicans are not going to get a seat in the Senate here no matter how hard they try)
     Tim Johnson - South Dakota (Popular Senator but we'll just have to wait and see.  There might be a race but it's too early to tell at this point.)
     Mark Warner - Virginia (Heard rumors that he may run for Governor but if not, this to be frank won't be a race, given Warner is extremely popular in Virginia.  Now that another former Virginia Governor, Tim Kaine, has been elected as Senator, I think him and Warner should be a good team)
     Jay Rockefeller - West Virginia (If he runs, we don't have much to worry about.  West Virginia is a red state but Rockefeller has been re-elected twice already)

    Right now, we just have to wait and see what happens.

    As for the following Republicans:

    Jeff Session - Alabama (No race here.  Session should be a lock for re-election.  Alabama has a bunch of nuts.
     Saxby Chambliss - Georgia (Georgia may currently be a red state but in the future, it may be less so as there are a number of liberal communities that are emerging.  Atlanta leans Democrat and even places like Athens are very liberal.  Democrats need to take advantage of this and fire up the base, rather than letting opportunities go.  Democrats almost had a chance to unseat Chambliss in 2008 so this state shouldn't be written off.  He's also the one who previously ran the 2002 campaign against Max Cleland in a very dispicable way.  Democrats should pound Chambliss on this.  On the other hand, Chambliss has been bipartisan a bit lately, particularly in terms of working with Senators like Mark Warner on practical debt deal negotiation that was rejected by Mr. Self-Centered Mitch McConnell.
     Jim Risch - Idaho (Democrats are always writing off Idaho.  It may be a red state but if communication is done effectively, there could be a decent challenger.  We'll see.  I have relatives in this state and they can be open-minded so long as any Democratic challenger is not a divisive candidate and actually puts the interests of constituents first.)
     Pat Roberts - Kansas (Super deep red state.  Good luck for Democrats to mount a challenger.)
     Mitch McConnell - Kentucky (It may be a likely hold but Democrats should really make this a race.  McConnell's statement on making Obama a one-term President gives Democrats ammunition and McConnell seems to be unwilling to compromise with Democrats unless it means to pander to the Tea Party.  Unlike John Boehner's less divisive statement on willingness to compromise with Obama and other Democrats in the House, McConnell is self-centered.  He should pay for this.)
     Susan Collins - Maine (I'm really not sure if this will be a Safe seat for the Republicans to be honest.  While Collins is a popular Senator and a liberal/moderate one at that, Democrats could mount a credible challenger to her and beat her at the same time.  It's entirely possible.  However, Collins is fine.  I don't see why we need to challenge her as she's worked with Democrats in the past on many issues and also is pro-choice.)
     Thad Cochran - Mississippi (Just about impossible to challenge Cochran.  He's not a Tea Party Republican but he's also not really a divisive figure either)
     Mike Johanns - Nebraska (Not deep red, just red.  It will be hard for Democrats to challenge him.)
     Jim Inhofe - Oklahoma (Super red state.  This is probably the reddest state in the country to be honest.  Inhofe has a lot of skeletons and is a divisive figure when it comes to the environment but if the Democrats want to beat him, they'll need someone who is not a divisive candidate, a conservative Democrat or moderate who can be able to communicate with people effectively
     Lindsey Graham - South Carolina (This state isn't deep red.  It's less red nowadays but still a red state.  Graham has been challenged by those in the Tea Party but he's still a popular Senator and not a Tea Party Republican.  He's good at compromising and working with Democrats, even though he can be wrong at times)
     Lamar Alexander - Tennessee (If the Democrats really start getting their act together in this state and get someone to challenge Alexander's credentials, we might see a race but I wouldn't get too worked up.  Alexander isn't a Tea Party Republican but he's not a right winger either.  He's known to be a compromiser too, which will be difficult for Democrats to handle when they challenge him in a red state)
     John Cornyn - Texas (Texas is becoming less deep red actually.  There are a lot of Democrats in the state and plenty of opportunities for a challenger to emerge but that challenger will need our (and the DSCC's) support.  If the Texas Democratic Party gets its act together, we could have a good race.  Senator Cornyn isn't a Tea Party Republican and he's also got some skeletons, being a close friend of the Bushes and also his handling of the Fast & Furious hearings should give Democrats ammunition)
     Mike Enzi - Wyoming (Like Idaho, Democrats keep writing off this state.  I'm not sure why Democrats continue to not do enough outreach in Wyoming.  Sure, it may be a red state but it's also a Western state and Democrats should take any advantage to fire up the base in a Western state.  However, Enzi has been known not to be a Tea Party Republican but a traditionally conservative Republican who is willing to work with Democrats.  He's done so in the past.)

    I'd say at this point, Democrats should be focused primarily on keeping the seats in the Senate and aim their targets at gaining new seats in the House.

  •  are you a Republican? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noisy Democrat

    I thought only Republicans used the term Democrat instead of Democratic - as in Democrat Senators instead of Democratic Senators.

  •  my current assessment: (0+ / 0-)

    the Democrats will have 20 seats to defend and the Republicans will have 13.

    Of those, the Democrats should be heavy favorites to keep six (Udall-CO, Durbin-IL, Levin-MI, Udall-NM, Merkley-OR and Reed-RI). Ten other Democratic seats should be favored for Democrats to win (Coons-DL, Harkin-IA, Kerry-MA, Pryor-AR,, Franken-MN, Baucus-MT, Shaheen-NH, Lautenberg-NJ, Warner-VA, Rockefeller-WV), contingent upon whether there will be any retirements. That leaves four likely vulnerable Democratic seats (Landrieu-LA, Begich-AK, Hagen-NC and Johnson-SD).

    Of the Republican seats, ten of the 13 looks like they should heavily favor the Republican (Sessions-AL, Chambliss-GA, Risch-IDA, Roberts-KS, Cochran-MS, Johanns-NB, Inhofe-OK, Graham-SC, Cornyn-TX and Enzi-WY). Two are Republican seats are likely for the Republicans to hold (McConnell-KY, Alexander-TN).  The only Republican seat that could end up being vulnerable would be Collins in ME.

    To me, that means Republicans start the 2014 Senate elections favored to pick up at least three seats, depending on whether there are any retirements and contingent upon recruitment of top-tier candidates by both parties (if the Democrats can come up with a well-known competitor for McConnell, his could become vulnerable). The only other potential for Democrats seem like they might be Cornyn in Texas and Chambliss in GA if, and only if, Democrats are able to come up with top-tier opponents and Democrats can put ground games into place to take advantage of increasingly favorable demographics in those states.

  •  Mitch McConnell (0+ / 0-)

    I think the good folks in Kentucky are going to be very tired of hearing McConnell's name being associated with all the bad things said about the Senate in the next two years and a Democrat may be in play stronger than folks imagine today.  I, for one, will contribute to a Democrat running against McConnell.

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