Looking back on 2011, either party can claim to have “won” the elections that were held that year. From the Democratic point of view, special elections in Upstate New York and the victory on the collective bargaining vote in Ohio, combined with the near sweep of statewide elections in Kentucky, are what they believe are evidence that the 2010 Republican wave has subsided.
From the Republican point of view, a Republican victory in a heavily Jewish seat in New York City, as well as a sweep of Louisiana and Mississippi elections, combined with the capture of four legislative chambers (both houses in Louisiana and Mississippi) and a tie in the Virginia Senate, give them a good feeling about elections this year. Plus, Ohio voters clearly showed their disapproval of the individual mandate that is a cornerstone feature of Obamacare.
The “tie breaker” will be the federal, state, and local elections to be held next year. Election 2012 has several layers to it, and we will be covering it accordingly:
Presidential: in the near term, Republicans have to pick a nominee to challenge President Obama next fall. While Mitt Romney is the presumed front runner, his poll position has been static, while those opposed to his candidacy have not yet coalesced behind a candidate and stayed there for long. That will change once we get into the thick of the Presidential primaries.
Statewide: This time, only 11 states are holding gubernatorial elections. Democrats hold an 8-3 lead with this group of elected officials, although several of the statehouses held by Democrats (North Carolina, Washington, Montana) appear to be shaky;
Senate: While the Democrats have a 53-47 lead in that chamber, 23 out of 33 Senate seats up this year are held by Democrats, and the picture is further complicated by the fact that 6 out of 8 Senate retirements are Democrats. Combine that with embattled incumbents like Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) who may retire, and the Democrats have their work cut out for them. Especially since only Republican (Scott Brown of Massachusetts) is anywhere near vulnerable;
House: Republicans have a 242-193 lead in that chamber. There are 26 House members who have decided to retire, and 17 of those 26 are Democrats. You also have additional turmoil that will come from redistricting. The story about these races will gradually be told as we know who is running or retiring, and after primaries have been held;
In the near future, Presidential season will be front and center, with four primaries/caucuses in January. Iowa has its caucus on January 3, and New Hampshire’s primary is on January 10. Filing deadlines are looming in several states as well, and we will be watching to see if there are any additional retirements. Illinois’ filing deadline is December 27, while Maryland’s is January 11.
Below are maps showing the primary dates for the first few months, as well as upcoming filing deadlines.