Election 2012: Dems expand their Senate majority – but how much?

  • Published on November 7th, 2012

Dems have senate gains - but how many?At the beginning of the cycle, the GOP was convinced it was going to win back the Senate. But a funny thing happened on the way to the election… again.

Just like last time, the GOP primary electorate went for hard-line, ultra-conservative and Tea Party candidates, which just like last time probably cost them the majority they crave.

  • In red-state Missouri, Claire McCaskill was deeply vulnerable… but was blessed with anti-abortion zealot Todd Akin as an opponent
  • In Indiana, Dick Lugar would have been happy to win once more for the GOP. But Rep Richard Mourdock decided Lugar wasn’t conservative enough, the knives came out… and then Mourdock shot himself in the foot, again over abortion and rape. (Quip of the night, from Red State: “I guess God intended Richard Mourdock to throw away Indiana for us”)
  • In Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson lost at least as much as Tammy Baldwin won.
  • Weak candidates also torpedoed GOP chances in FL, CN, ME, OH and PA.
Democrats had some disappointments, too.
  • Shelley Berkley ran substantially behind Obama in Nevada; a stronger candidate should have won that race.
  • For a while we thought we had a decent candidate in Richard Carmona in Arizona, but he fizzled.
  • The surprise primary victory of Tea Partier Deb Fischer should have given us an opening in Nebraska, but Bob Kerrey just forgot how to campaign in his long years away from the Senate (or maybe Nebraska really is a different state than when he was a popular Governor and Senator… 20 years ago).

And the races in Montana and North Dakota remain too close to call, although Dems lead in both. So we could see as many as three pickups… or only one. Either way, that’s a big improvement over the way things looked at the start of the year. Next up: Filibuster reform!

Here’s our rundown of the tightest races. “Tossup/lean/etc” indicates a consensus of where the seat stood going into the election; bold indicates the winner, * indicates party holding the seat going in.

Arizona Tossup… Carmona
GOP Hold
Conn. Lean D… Murphy McMahon Dem Gain
Florida Likely D… *Nelson Mack Dem Hold
Hawaii Likely D… *Hirono Lingle Dem Hold
Indiana Tossup… Donnelly *Mourdock Dem Gain
Mass Lean D… Warren *Brown Dem Gain
Maine Lean I… King (Ind.) *Summers Dem Gain
Missouri Lean D… *McCaskill Akin Dem Hold
Montana Tossup… *Tester Rehberg  too close
N. Dak Tossup… *Heitkamp Berg  too close
Nebraska Likely R… *Kerrey Fischer Fischer GOP Gain
New Jersey Likely D… *Menendez Kyrillos Dem Hold
New Mexico Likely D… *Heinrich Wilson Dem Hold
Nevada Tossup… Berkley *Heller GOP Hold
Ohio Lean D… *Brown Mandel Dem Hold
Penn. Lean D… *Casey Smith Dem Hold
Virginia Tossup… *Kaine Allen Dem Hold
Wisconsin Tossup… *Baldwin Thompson Dem Hold
West Virginia Likely D… *Manchin Raese Dem Hold

(Capital image by MV_Jantzen via Flickr)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.