More GOP Senate gains in 2012, 2014 inevitable

The Democrats are in trouble in the United States Senate come November.

That is — November 6, 2012.

On that day, 21 Democratic Senate seats will be up for reelection, plus the two Independent Senate seats that caucus with the Democrats — Joe Lieberman (CT) and Bernie Sanders (VT). Only 10 Republican seats will be up for reelection. None of the 10 Republicans had a close race in 2006 (they were the fittest that survived handily in the reddest states in what was a disastrous year for Republicans), and none are considered vulnerable (although some are getting old and could conceivably retire). But does anyone really think that Thad Cochran (the oldest Republican up for reelection in 2012) retiring in Mississippi — if he did — would change that from being a red — really red — state?

The Republicans are not going to lose a single Republican Senate seat in 2010, and — at this early stage — the same seems to be true for 2012.

This is not about the economy, the legislative agenda, the president, or even who is running for president. It is about who is up, how many are up, what their parties are, how narrowly they got in, how long (or short) a time they have been in the Senate, and how vulnerable they will be.

In fact, things are also looking very good for Republicans in 2014, when 20 Democratic seats are up in the U.S. Senate, and the Republicans only have to defend 13 seats.

The Democrats did very well in 2006 and 2008, but — of course — more wins mean more seats to defend … and many of those seats will be held by first-termers who won very narrow victories, including many who won on President Obama’s very considerable coattails in 2008. The president’s current approval rating? An all-time low of 37 percent.

Moreover, in 2012 Democratic Senators Jeff Bingaman (NM) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) will be 79, Ben Nelson (NE) will be 71, and Bill Nelson (FL) will be 70. Sanders and Lieberman will be 71 and 70, respectively.

In 2006, Lieberman won with 49.7 percent of the vote, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) won with 49.6 percent of the vote, freshman Jon Tester (D-MT) won with 49.2 percent of the vote. Freshman Jim Webb (D-VA) won by 0.6 percent. Ben Nelson (NE) has a 42 percent approval rating after his badly mismanaged support for Obamacare (he had had the highest approval rating of any senator before that). Tom Carper (D-DE) has health problems and reportedly may not seek reelection. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Bob Casey, Jr. (D- PA) were all narrow winners in states that are now deeply troubled economically and will have had substantial Republican surges (and Democratic turnover) in 2010. Herb Kohl (D-WI) will be 67, and may face a challenge from very popular and high-profile Rep. Paul Ryan (D-WI) in a state that is suddenly and unexpectedly turning purple (just ask the soon-to-be-defeated three-term Senator Russ Feingold).

Already considered to be vulnerable Democrats in 2012 are Ben Nelson (NE) (Will he even run? Does the Democratic Party want him to?), McCaskill (MO), Webb (VA), Bill Nelson (FL), Brown (OH), Bingaman (NM), and Kent Conrad (ND). That’s seven. Add in Joe Lieberman in a possible three-way race. That’s eight.