Collins agrees. "I would never switch parties," she says. "My DNA is moderate Republican."
With few moderates left in the Senate to bridge a widening chasm, Baker says, it may be that most Senate Republicans are hoping, as conservative talk king Rush Limbaugh exclaimed, that Obama fails. "Although they may dispute the bluntness with which Limbaugh expressed it, I think they probably would agree that their best chance is that Barack Obama falls flat on his face—that credit remains tight, that housing starts remain low, that the market sags," Baker says.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, gloating after Specter's big switch, said the exit showed that the GOP is a place "where moderates need not apply." Snowe and Collins would take issue with him on that point but might agree on this one: For all their power, there's no mistaking that two is a lonely number.