Republicans had hoped that they would not only maintain or build on their majority in the House in 2012, but also take control of the Senate since a number of Democrats are up for re-election this year. While that prospect is still in play since the GOP only needs four seats for a majority in the Senate, it just got a bit tougher.
As you know, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) decided against a bid for re-election. The writing was on the wall for him. Polls showed him down to prospective Republican challengers, thanks to his votes for the stimulus and ObamaCare; not to mention that he is a Democrat in a “red state.” But former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) has talked into running by Senate Democrats after promises were made to him.
Cook Political still has the at “Likely Republican” and no polling has come out since Kerrey announced his candidacy, but he does present a more formible challenge for Republicans.
Republicans were dealt a more serious blow in Maine this week after Sen. Olympia Snowe, who generally viewed as a moderate, announced that she wouldn’t run for re-election. There has been some speculation that Ron Paul supporters booing her when she showed up at the GOP caucus last month may have had something to do with her decision. This is now listed as a “Toss Up” by most observers.
And polls are tight in Wisconsin in the race to replace Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) between Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and her potential Republican challengers. She tops out at 47% in possible general election matchups, but former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI), who has been hammered by the Club for Growth — and for good reason, performs the best.
The good news for Republicans is that Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) looks to be in the drivers’ seat in his race against Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with yet another poll out showing him with a double-digit lead.
There are various scenerios that could play out between now and November, and it still looks like there is a decent chance that the GOP can win the Senate, but it’s not going to be easy. But in politics it rarely is easy.