Senate Republicans are looking strong going into the 2012 election, poised to pick up enough states to create a four-seat majority and possibly a filibuster-proof lead if the eventual GOP presidential nominee routs President Obama, according to party leaders and a new election analysis.
"Barring an unexpected reelection landslide by President Obama, Republicans are at least slightly favored to take the Senate. It's just a basic matter of numbers," says Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political analyst, in a new report.
He predicts that Republicans are likely to win Republican Senate seats in North Dakota, Missouri, Montana, and Nebraska. He also sees chances for the GOP to take seats in Virginia, New Mexico and Wisconsin. A sweep would give the Republicans 54 Senate seats and make Sen. Mitch McConnell the majority leader.
And in jarring news for the Democrats, he said that the GOP can "compete" and possibly take Democratic-held seats in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Hawaii. Additional victories in six of those would give the GOP a filibuster-proof 60-seat super majority that would effectively ice President Obama's agenda, if he's reelected, or greatly boost a GOP president.
Some of his predictions jive with McConnell's, who sees Republican pickups in Democratic-held seats in North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Missouri and Virginia and open seats in New Mexico and Wisconsin.
For the GOP to do better, Obama would have to be routed and Sabato has a measurement of how that could happen. "Over the past three decades, nearly three of every five truly competitive Senate races, decided by 53% to 47% or less, went the way of the presidential election winner in each state. That proportion may be as high or higher in 2012." In other words, he said, presidential coattails will matter in 2012.
See Sabato's full note.