Changing party balance in the U.S. Senate

A year after President Barack Obama was sworn in, the political picture in the U.S. looks almost completely different – like in s reallignment. Rachel Maddow was mocking the Republican Party days after Election Day calling its decline a “free fall,” and other MSNBC hosts and guests called the GOP “small, regional and white” going as far as offering that it changes its ideology a little to the left for the sake of its survival. Such calls sound great if trends in life never change though.

Instead of listening to their critics, the Republicans did the exact opposite. After losing huge grounds in Congress, they started lambasting the Democrats’ agenda through criticizing almost any program that the Democrats wanted to push through Congress accusing the latter of socialism and clarifying whenever possible that more spending during such harsh economic times is going to be devastating to the country. 

The results weren’t long, especially when their mainstream media, FOX News, is the most watched one in the country, not to mention that the economic stimulus package was by far not what most people expected. The President’s rating started decreasing, as you can see the results from the Quinnipiac University Poll – from 59% approval rating on June 2009 down to 45% three weeks ago. The November state and local elections also looked like a Republican comeback when the GOP won the Gubernatorial race in Virginia and New Jersey (I expected Mr. Corzine to lose even a year ago, for his approval rating was always very low), states where Barack Obama went to campaign for the gubernatorial candidates who lost (Virginia and New Jersey), and the last election can only serve as a proof to political analysts that the American people is turning to the right again. And all without a single constructive idea presented by the Republicans in Congress other than “cut spending,” “lower taxes,” and “bring more deregulation,” as if Republican President George Bush and the Republican-dominated Congress never increased spending and taxes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This time, President Obama and his party were punished by a rather blue state – Massachusetts – whose voters elected a red candidate, then state Senator Scott Brown, for the first time in decades, of course not without state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s weak campaign strategy.

What about November 2010?

What is going to happen to the party balance in the U.S. Senate in ten months? Chris Dodd, a Democratic Senator for whom both the President and the Vice-President opened fundraiser events in Stamford and Hartford respectively, dropped out of the race out of solidarity with his party rather than anything else, and the state’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal immediately entered it expecting to face either former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons, or former WWE CEO Linda McMahon. The popular Attorney General is leading both GOP frontrunners by a landslide, according to poll results, but the surprise in Massachusetts must have brought a clear message to the Democrats – that no Democratic candidate can be considered safe.

What about the rest? Here’s a map provided by CQ Politics! Pay attention to the yellow (toss-ups) and pale (leaning) states! Seats currently held by the Democrats in these states are Arkansas (yellow, Senator Blanche Lincoln is currently the most vulnerable Democratic Senator who is up for reelection), Nevada (yellow, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s seat at stake), Illinois (Senator Ronald Burris not seeking reelection, and with good reason after a corruption scandal last winter involving his appointment to replace the President’s vacant seat), Delaware (leaning Republican), Pennsylvania (conservative Democratic Senator Arlen Specter running for reelection and having a tough opposition both within his new party against Joe Sestak and against Republican Pat Toomey).

Republicans are currently represented by the following states yellow and pale states: North Carolina, Louisiana (pale red, a chance for the Democrats to defeat incumbent Senator David Vitter who, according to the website, has been involved in a sex scandal, and is possibly facing a centre-right Democrat, Representative Charlie Melancon), Florida (Kendrick Meek is losing to both Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist), Ohio (Senator George Voinovich announced almost two years ago that he is not seeking reelection, Rob Portman is having a substantial lead so far against Tom Ganley for the Republican nomination, while having a slight lead against Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner who are fighting for the Democratic nomination).

I will disregard the “safe” states for now but even by disregarding them – as you can see, there are enough Democratic seats to be taken over by the Republicans in order to at least return the status quo after the midterm elections to what it used to be before Barack Obama got elected.

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