Cross posted on Upstate Political Report
Would I have been happy if any or all of the first three had been defeated on Tuesday? Of course. Obviously the last two were totally out of reach with them being Democrats from New York. If Jimmy McMillan with his useless platform (which accomplished precisely what it was designed for....to launch his entertainment career) had been the Democrat nominee for either US Senate seat in New York, he'd have won by a million vote margin too.
But is it really that bad that all five of these extreme leftists managed to be reelected? Not at all. Actually, let me correct myself. The first four are leftists and the last is a rubber stamp for leftist #4. The rubber stamp was independent during her days as a Congresswoman and is now mostly a puppet.
So why is it not so bad? Boxer (CA) and Schumer (NY) are utterly obnoxious. Reid (NV) might be less obnoxious than either of these two, but he still has his own level of obnoxiousness. Being the Senate Majority Leader, he has high visibility. Murray (WA) is fairly quiet but definitely extreme, and has high seniority within the Senate. Gillibrand is quiet too, because she generally just votes with Schumer. In that sense, he may as well be speaking for both of them.
So why do we not mind obnoxious and extremist types in the Senate? With the exception of Reid, these come from states that consistently elect these types. So, it's a given that the Senate is going to have someone like Boxer from California or Schumer from New York. Washington is also fairly liberal too. The bulk of Democrats in the Senate are holdovers from the 2006 and 2008 elections.
Both Barack AND Michelle Obama campaigned for Harry Reid. Barack Obama campaigned for Patty Murray and Barbara Boxer as well. He's associated with them. They're his problem. Obama is up for reelection in 2012 (unless enough people "convince" Hillary to change her mind about not running in 2012). Any attempts to seem more centrist or reasonable as we get closer to the election can easily be matched with statements from the likes of Reid, Boxer, and Murray, who personally don't have to worry about another election for six years. Boxer, after beating back a challenge from Fiorina where the polls occasionally put Fiorina ahead, may come out with another entertaining gaffe like "Call me Senator; I worked hard for that title." In reality, she happened to be a Democrat and get nominated for US Senator from California. It's California. So, whenever Barbara "Call me Senator" Boxer wants to be reelected, she will be. Maybe she had to "work hard" to push her way through other Democrats to get the nod way back in 1992. But after that, Boxer will continue to retain her job for as long as she wants it. Afterall, she has a "D" after her name.
Defeat would have meant that these people would step into history and eventually be forgotten. But now they will continue to be in the spotlight. Further, had Angle and O'Donnell been elected, they could have been lightning rods for Obama to play against in his reelection campaign. (Note: I did not include Coons in my title only because he is not an incumbent. But Obama campaigned for him too and I'm sure he will provide gaffes with which Obama can be associated.)
But let's shift focus to the US Senate for the moment. In 2012, there are several Democrat Senators from centrist or right-leaning states (or states which just elected a Republican governor and/or Senator) who will be up for reelection including:
- Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
- Bill Nelson (Florida)
- Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
- Bob Casey, Jr. (Pennsylvania)
- Jim Webb (Virginia)
- Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)
- Jon Tester (Montana)
- Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
- Kent Conrad (North Dakota)
- Joe Manchin (West Virginia)
- Herb Kohl (Wisconsin)
Barring new scandals, Republicans have potential liabilities in the following:
- Scott Brown (Massachusetts) --- likely will flip since it's Massachusetts
- Olympia Snowe (Maine)
- John Ensign (Nevada)
The eleven Democrats can be tied to Obama and Reid. Just a few turnovers among them, even if Massachusetts and Maine are lost, could amount to narrow Republican control of the Senate. I'd suggest that Ben Nelson, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Kent Conrad, Jim Webb, and possibly Claire McCaskill and Bob Casey, are ripe for defeat under current circumstances. Should Republicans keep their current seats, lose Massachusetts and Maine, and flip six of these Democrat held seats, they get narrow control of the Senate. Obviously if they keep Maine, they only need to flip five.
Reid, Boxer, Schumer, and other obnoxious Democrat Senators like Kerry, Durbin and Harkin, could be useful in this effort. They (especially Reid as Majority Leader) can be tied to these vulnerable Senators. If Al Franken wants to be loud too, that would make it even more fun. And if Coons mixes things up a bit, even better. In fact, even one of the presumed "safe" Democrat seats up in 2012 could flip.
The eleven named Democrats will need to be more centrist and some would even need to be "fake conservative" to meet the leanings of their states. They will not be able to just march in lock step with the likes of Reid, Boxer, and Schumer, all of whom won reelection and don't have to worry about another election for six years. None of these eleven want to be the next Russ Feingold (WI). And if they start to see the handwriting on the wall, they could be the next Byron Dorgan, meaning that the Democrat running in their place would likely face defeat.
But if the obnoxious colleagues of these eleven were not enough, then there is Obama. He's not popular in most of the states represented by these eleven Senators. His name will more than likely be on the ballot in 2012....along with these Senators. He could be problematic for down ballot candidates. 2012 could indeed be another year of "change we can believe in."