Dem 55
image description
   
GOP 45
image description
  • Strongly Dem (45)
  • Likely Dem (7)
  • Barely Dem (2)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (2)
  • Likely GOP (0)
  • Strongly GOP (43)
  • No Senate race
    Treating King as a Dem
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups : IN MA ME
GOP pickups : NE

Introduction to the 2012 Senate Races

There are 23 Democratic Senate seats up for election this year and only 10 Republican seats. Furthermore, of the ten retirements announced so far, seven are Democrats (counting Joe Lieberman as a Democrat here) while only three Republicans are retiring. The Democratic seats in Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin are all going to be very competitive and the Republicans could easily pick up some of them. The Democrats have a shot in Arizona, but the Republican running there is the favorite. In Maine, an independent is running and is the overwhelming favorite. If he decides to caucus with the Democrats, like his independent neighbor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), that is a likely pickup for the Democrats. All in all, this means the Democrats will have to fight very hard to hang onto the Senate, which they now control 53-47.

The Democratic-held seats are listed first below, in alphabetical order by state, with the Republican ones following.

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Click on "Polls" for a graph of the polls for that state
Click here for a page with graphs of all Senate polls by state

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For a graph showing the predicted 113th Senate daily from January 2012 until today, click here.


Democratic-held seats

Alaska

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Begich
Mark
Begich

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Mark Begich, the former mayor of Anchorage, was personally recruited by then-DSCC chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), even though he had to face then-Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest sitting Republican in Senate history. Stevens was convicted of several felony violations a week before the election, but lost by only 1-point. Stevens' convictions were later thrown out by Attorney General Eric Holder, but by then it was too late. While Stevens won't try to get his old job back (he died in 2010), if Sarah Palin is the Republican nominee, she would be the favorite in this very red state.

Arkansas

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Pryor
Mark
Pryor

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
In 2002, Mark Pryor defeated incumbent senator Tim Hutchinson by 7 points and became so popular the Republicans didn't bother to field a candidate against him in 2008. He is unlikely to be so lucky in 2014. Former governor Mike Huckabee might go for the GOP nomination as could one of the three Republican congressmen, Rick Crawford, Timothy Griffin, or Steve Womack.

Colorado

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Udall
Mark
Udall

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Colorado is trending Democratic and the Republicans don't have an obvious candidate, so Udall is probably safe.

Delaware

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Chris Coons
Chris
Coons

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Chris Coons had the pleasure of running against Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell in a 2010 special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Joe Biden when he became Vice President. He won't be so lucky this time, but Delaware is a very blue state and the Republicans have no bench at all there, so he can serve another five or six terms if he wants to.

Hawaii

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
no D
 
 

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
After the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye in Dec. 2012, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed ...

Illinois

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Dick Durbin
Dick
Durbin

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Dick Durbin is majority whip, the second most powerful position in the Senate. He is also from a very blue state, Illinois. If he wants a fourth term, it is his for the asking.

Iowa

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Tom Harkin
Tom
Harkin

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Tom Harkin will be 75 years old 2 weeks after the 2014 election, so he might retire, but he is one of the most liberal senators and is unlikely to quit now that the Senate has become more liberal than it has been in years. He won his previous five Senate elections with ease and is likely to win his sixth one if he tries.

Louisiana

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mary Landrieu
Mary
Landrieu

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Mary Landrieu could be in for a hard time in 2014. Lousiana is a deep red state and many black Democrats left the state in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and never returned. Nevertheless, she managed to win in 2008 and has fought hard for the state. Working in her favor is that the Landrieu name is well known in Louisiana. Her father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans, a post now occupied by her brother Mitch Landrieu. Gov Bobby Jindal (R-LA) would be a formiddable opponent, but most people think he is going to run for President in 2016 rather than senator in 2014. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) might run. Despite the redness of the state, Landrieu is still a slight favorite at this point due to her long incumbency and the popularity of her father and brother.

Massachusetts

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
John Kerry
John
Kerry

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
John Kerry wants to be Secretary of State in the worst way, but if President Obama has other ideas about that job, Kerry will run for the Senate again in 2014 and 2020 and subsequent years until the cows come home and keep winning.

Michigan

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Carl Levin
Carl
Levin

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Carl Levin will be 80 on election day in 2014. After six full terms in the Senate, he might call it quits, but as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he has a lot of power. The other sneator for Michigan, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who is not as well known or powerful as he is, just won reelection by 21 points in a state Barack Obama won by 10 points. While not as Democratic as, say, Illinois, it is Democratic enough that Levin is a near shoo-in if he runs and another Democrat would be the favorite if he doesn't.

Minnesota

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Al Franken
Al
Franken

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Al Franken beat then-senator Norm Coleman in 2008--a Democratic wave year--by just 312 votes after six months of legal wrangling following the election. As a former professional comedian, some people were worried he would spend his time in the Senate shooting off one liners at the Republicans. But he held his tongue, kept his head down, and played the role expected of a junior senator. His Senate colleague, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), just won a 34-point landslide in this blue state. While Franken is not likely to repeat that feat, unless the Republicans can pull a rabbit out of the hat, Franken is likely to win reelection. One conceivable opponent might be Rep. Michele Bachmann. If she is the GOP nominee, it will be an epic battle and Franken has at least a shot at beating Klobuchar's 34-point margin

Montana

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Max Baucus
Max
Baucus

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Max Baucus is a moderate Democrat in a state that votes for Republicans in presidential elections but has a long history of voting for Democrats at the state level. He will be 73 at the start of a potential seventh term, but he is currently chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes the nation's tax laws. People rarely give up that kind of power voluntarily. Also, that position means there are a whole lot of people who want to be his friend, so he can raise all the money he needs, which is not much given how well he is known and how cheap Montana television time is. The one point an opponent might try to hit him with is his 2009 recommendation of Melodee Hanes for U.S. Attorney, at a time when Hanes was his girlfriend. She subsequently withdrew and got a job with the Justice Dept. Hanes became Baucus' third wife in 2011.

New Hampshire

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Jeanne Shaheen
Jeanne
Shaheen

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
New Hampshire is about as friendly to female politicians as you can get. Both senators, both representatives and the the incoming governor are all women. Shaheen is well known in the state, having served two terms as governor before being elected to the Senate in 2008. Unless the Republicans can find an exceptionally strong candidate, she is probably safe in this quirky, but more blue than red, state.

New Jersey

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Frank Lautenberg
Frank
Lautenberg

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
The big question about Frank Lautenberg is whether he will run for reelection. He already retired once and could retire again. He eserved in the Senate from 1982 until 2001 and then retired. But the 2002 Democratic senatorial candidate, Robert Torricelli, got enmeshed in a corruption scandal and the party managed to force him out. Then it pleaded with Lautenberg to run again and he did. He was reelected again in 2008. If he runs in 2014, he will be reelected easily. The only problem is that he will be 2 weeks shy of his 96th birthday at the end of another term. Even by Senate standards, that is getting on in years, although former senator Strom Thurmond celebrated his 100th birthday in 2002 while a sitting senator (in a wheelchair because he was unable to stand). If Lautenberg retires, Newark mayor Cory Booker might run and there are several Democratic representatives who might go for it.

New Mexico

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Tom Udall
Tom
Udall

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Tom Udall is a mere stripling at 64. He has won two elections as New Mexico Attorney General, five as a congressman, and one as a senator. New Mexico has long since ceased to be a swing state and has become a deep blue state, so this seat is Udall's as long as he wants it. He comes from a very political family. His first cousin, Mark Udall is senator from Colorado, his uncle, Morris Udall, is a congressman from Arizona, and he is also related to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and to former Oregon senator Gordon Smith.

North Carolina

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Kay Hagan
Kay
Hagan

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Kay Hagan beat then senator Elizabeth Dole in the Democratic wave year of 2008 by 8 points, but she was helped a lot by a disatrous ad run by Dole accusing Hagan of taking money from the Godless Americans PAC. The ad was so over the top, that it became a major campaign issue. She won't be so lucky this time, but of course she is now an incumbent in this swing state. North Carolina has no shortage of representatives and statewide officers who might challenge her.

Oregon

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Jeff Merkley
Jeff
Merkley

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Jeff Merkley won a very narrow victory over then-senator Gordon Smith in 2008. In his first time as a senator, he has been a high-profile progressive and one of the leaders of the fight to abolish the filibuster in Jan. 2013. Oregon is a liberal state, and a young (56), progressive, with clear left-of-center positions on many issues, shouldn't have any trouble coasting to reelection.

Rhode Island

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Jack Reed
Jack
Reed

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Jack Reed is a low-profile guy who avoids the media and concentrates on service to his constitutents. They apparently like that since they elected him to his third term in the Senate in 2008 by a margin of 57% over his Republican challenger, the same margin he got in 2002. No matter who the Republicans nominate, he'll win by more than 50% in 2012.

South Dakota

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Tim Johnson
Tim
Johnson

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Tim Johnson had prostate cancer in 2004 and a cerebral hemorrhage in 2006 while doing a live radio interview. However, he came back fighting and his constituents appreciated that, giving him 63% of the vote in the 2008 general election. Nevertheless, if the Republicans field a strong candidate, he could argue that the state needs a senator who can give 100% for the state. The most likely Republican candidates are Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and former governor Mike Rounds. Both could give Johnson a real battle in this deep red state. This state is one the Republicans' best pickup opportunities.

Virginia

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Warner
Mark
Warner

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Multimillionaire Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia, has announced that he intends to stay in the Senate and not enter the open race for the governor's mansion in 2013. Former governor Tim Kaine (D) just won a decisive sen,ate victory over former Republican senator George Allen who was trying for a comeback. No doubt the Republicans will find a strong candidate in this purple state, but Warner's popularity and ability to self fund the race, makes him the clear favorite.

West Virginia

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Jay Rockefeller
Jay
Rockefeller

(D)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(R)
Jay Rockefeller, who will be 77 on election day 2014, has served five terms as senator. He might decide that is enough and retire. However, if he decides to go for a sixth term, he will be a strong candidate, even though he has been less than enthusiastic about promoting coal, a major industry in West Virginia. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, daughter of former West Virginia governor and former felon, Arch Moore, has announced that she is running for the Republican senatorial nomination. On the day she announced a bevy of conservatives immediately attacked her for being too liberal, even though she is by far the best known Republican in the state. If Rockefeller runs and Capito is bloodied in a primary, he will probably win again. If Rockefeller decides to call it a day after 45 years in politics, Gov. Earl Tomblin (D-WV), is the most likely Democratic candidate.

Republican-held seats

Alabama

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Jeff Sessions
Jeff
Sessions

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is about as Southern as they come and also about as conservative as they come. He voted for everything George W. Bush put in front of the Senate except TARP and opposed everything President Obama wanted passed. He got 63% of the vote in 2008, although that was against an unknown black woman who son was currently serving time in federal prison. If the Democrats can come up with a white man with a solid track record, they might be able to keep Sessions below 60%.

Georgia

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Saxby Chambliss
Saxby
Chambliss

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Although Saxby Chambliss is a conservative Republican, he is at least willing to talk to the Democrats from time to time. However, that is enough of a sin to make it all but certain he will face a primary in 2014. He might face one of more of Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), or former Secretary of State Karen Handel. In a one-on-primary, he could easily lose to one of these or any other candidate on his right flank. In a multiway primary, he would probably come out on top, though. In the general election, almost any Republican would be the heavy favorite.

Idaho

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Jim Risch
Jim
Risch

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Jim Risch has had an interesting history, running for lieutenant governor at a time when he was actually governor (as a result of a gubernatorial vacancy when then-governor Dirk Kempthorne resigned the governorship to become George W. Bush's Secretary of the Interior). In 2008, he ran for the Senate and won. He is expected to run for reelection in 2014 and win easily.

Kansas

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Pat Roberts
Pat
Roberts

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Pat Roberts has run for Congress six times: three times for the House in KS-01 and three times for the Senate. The worst he has even done is 60% of the vote, which he got in 2008, when he beat the Democratic candidate by 24%. He is running in 2014 will probably do at least as well, no matter who the Democrats choose as their sacrificial lamb. Kansas is so Republican that running for the Senate probably isn't even worth the trouble in order to get statewide exposure for a future run at some other statewide office, all six of which are currently occupied by Republicans. Nevertheless, occasionally a Democrat does get elected to statewide office in Kansas: Kathleen Sebelius (D) was elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006. However, Kansas has elected only three Democrats to the Senate in all of its history, most recently in FDR's landslide victory of 1932. Roberts is about as safe as a senator can be.

Kentucky

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mitch McConnell
Mitch
McConnell

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Being minority leader puts Mitch Mcconnell in a tough position. If he just digs in his heels and opposes everything President Obama proposes, it will only strengthen the popular view that Republicans are for nothing and against everything. If he tries to work out a compromise with the Democrats, he is likely to be primaried. Kentucky is a red state, but actually has a fair number of Democrats in high office, starting with Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY), Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson (D-KY), and Attorney General Jack Conway. However, none of them has expressed any interested in challenging McConnell, which would surely be an uphill fight. The Democrats best shot is a repeat of the Indiana and Missouri 2012 elections: a crazy tea party candidate wins the Republican primary and then says something stupid in the general election, allowing an underdog Democrat to pull off an unexpected victory.

Maine

Incumbent Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Susan Collins
Susan
Collins

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Susan Collins belongs to a vanishing breed that once roamed New England like the buffalo in South Dakota: a moderate Northeastern Republican. She is personally popular in the state, but moderates are always subject to tea party challenges, even when the tea party candidate knows that the challenge could cost the Republicans a Senate seat. But even without a primary fight, Collins is probably the Democrats' best pickup opportunity, albeit not a bright one. If Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) decides to challenge Collins, Collins will have a serious fight on her hands. Pingree won her 2012 race by a 28% margin, but her problem will be getting enough votes in northern Maine (ME-02), where Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) won by only 16%. Obama won both districts, by margins of 22% and 7%, respectively. The northern part of the state is more conservative than the southern part, and furthermore, Collins hails from the far north.

Mississippi

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Thad Cochran
Thad
Cochran

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Six-term incumbent Thad Cochran will be a seven-term incumbent in Jan. 2015. The Democrats did find a challenger in 2008, Erik Fleming, but he got only 38% of the vote to Cochran's 62%. The 2014 results are likely to be similar.

Nebraska

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mike Johanns
Mike
Johanns

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Mike Johanns has served two terms as governor or Nebraska, 4 years as George W. Bush's Secretary of Agriculture, and now one term as a U.S. senator. He will be very difficult for the Democrats to dislodge as he is well known and popular in this very red state.

Oklahoma

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
James Inhofe
James
Inhofe

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
James Inhofe has been active in Oklahoma politics since 1967, when he was first elected to the state House of Representatives. He is extremely conservative, even voting against a 2005 bill that prohibits the U.S. government from torturing people in its custody. He also has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. But the people of Oklahoma seem to like him: he has gotten 57% of the vote in each of his most recent three Senate elections and is likely to get about the same percentage in 2014.

South Carolina

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Tim Scott
Tim
Scott

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
After former senator Jim DeMint's surprise resignation from the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation (and possibly prepare for a 2016 presidential run), Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Rep. Tim Scott to fill out DeMint's seat until a special election in Nov. 2014. Scott is black. If the Democrats nominate a white person, we could have the unusual situation of a black Republican against a white Democrat. This would put racist Republicans in a real pickle. Some of them might not vote or go for the white person. It could become a competitive seat if the Democrats can come up with a top-flight candidate, which won't be easy given how thin their bench is in South Carolina.

South Carolina

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Lindsey Graham
Lindsey
Graham

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Lindsey Graham is an outspoken conservative, but that may not be enough to save him from a primary against a tea party candidate. Conceivably, the former senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint could even finance the tea party candidate, which would be quite a sight. However, even if Graham is defeated in a primary, the Democratic bench in South Carolina is so thin that any Republican who doesn't claim rape is God's will could probably win.

Tennessee

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Lamar Alexander
Lamar
Alexander

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
By Tennessee standards, Lamar Alexander is something of a moderate. Nevertheless, in 2008, he carried 94 of Tennessee's 95 counties, losing only in majority-black Haywood County in Western Tennessee. He racked up 67% of the vote in the process. It is hard to see the Democrats coming up with anyone who could knock him off.

Texas

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
John Cornyn
John
Cornyn

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
As the Latino population of Texas continues to grow rapidly, some day it may become a purple state, but that day won't be in 2014. Consequently, John Cornyn shouldn't have a lot of trouble being reelected. If San Antonio Mayor, Julian Castro, is the Democratic nominee, Cornyn will have to actually campaign hard and put some effort into his reelection campaign, but he'll probably still win.

Wyoming

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Michael Enzi
Michael
Enzi

(R)
Candidate unknown
Candidate
unknown

(D)
Wyoming is one of the most Republican states in the country. Michael Enzi could probably be reelected even if he is caught in bed with both a live boy and a dead girl.