In 2004, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln won reelection in Arkansas with 54% of the vote while George W. Bush was carrying the state. On Tuesday, she didn’t even break 40% of the vote. Arkansas elected 3 Democrats and 1 Republican to the 111th Congress. Last night, it elected 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat.
Mark Pryor, the state’s incoming senior Senator is certainly paying attention to those numbers. But, at least he’s not up for reelection until 2014.
Now, while he has less to worry about in 2012, his colleagues Herb Kohl, Debbie Stabenow, Jim Webb, Jon Tester, Kent Conrad, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Claire McCaskill and to a lesser extent Jeff Bingaman, Maria Cantwell, Amy Klobuchar as well as Robert Menendez were paying attention to the returns in their states. None save perhaps Kohl’s Wisconsin, Stabenow’s Michigan, Webb’s Virginia and Brown’s Ohio swung as decisively against the Democrats as did Lincoln’s Arkansas, but these Senators know that the American people are now paying attention.
Not to mention Joe Manchin who was elected to fill out the term of the late Robert Byrd. He will also face the voters next fall. He campaigned against many of the centerpieces of his party’s agenda. He may caucus with the Democrats, but he’s certainly not going to vote with them.
In short, Harry Reid, though he won a victory most sweet to his party (and most bitter to ours), won’t be able to count of the loyalty of eleven, possibly fifteen, members of his caucus in the 112th Congress.
I expect at least some of those Senators, notably Kohl who turns 77 in 2012 to announce their retirement. Kent Conrad has got to be wondering whether incoming North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple plans to run for a full term as Governor in 2012 or to replace the 24-year incumbent. Reid may be able to count on those who decline to face the voters, but not only will he lack a filibuster-proof super-majority, but he’s also going to have trouble twisting arms to get a simple majority
As is often the cause, Charles Krauthammer sums it up:
The message voters delivered on Election Night was so strong, Krauthammer said, that Senate Democrats will continue to distance themselves from President Barack Obama’s policies for fear of political repercussions.
“I think there will be great resistance to any advance of the Obama agenda, and I think there will a lot of sympathy among these Democrats, the ones who are now up for reelection in two years for example, for an extension of the Bush tax cuts, for even a nibbling away of some of the edges of Obamacare,” he said.
(Via Nice Deb.)