Although everyone will be focusing on the presidential election come 2012, the battle for the majority in the Senate will be at least as interesting.
In 2011, a surprising number of Senators announced they would not run for re-election. The last was Senator Ben Nelson — the Nebraska Senator who was criticized, here and elsewhere, for shabby politicking in connection with the passage of the “health care reform” legislation. In all, seven Democratic Senators will be retiring, along with two Republicans. The retirement decisions make the current Democratic majority in the Senate particularly perilous, because Democrats are defending 23 seats this election cycle, compared to only 10 Republican seats that are up for challenge.
The Washington Post‘s political blog, The Fix, rates the most interesting 2012 Senate races, and one of its top 10 is incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown’s battle to win reelection against the apparent Republican challenger, State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Ohio is always a bellwether, and the race between Brown and Mandel may tell us a lot about which way the country is leaning.
One thing is certain: there will be a number of newcomers in the Senate in 2013. This will be a good thing, because the current Senate has been an embarrassing, inert body that has virtually no accomplishments to its name.
Lately I’ve been away from other members of the pack. When that happens, I stay with a new pack at a big farm. They feed me at the farm and wash me, too. Every day I go out into a big yard and play with the others. It’s not bad, really — but I’ve missed the Leader. I even miss the old boring guy!
Today the Leader came to get me. I was so glad to see her! When I got home I ran around, and everything is still just like it was. My crate is there. My toys are there. My favorite purple pillow is right by the window, just like it was. And, best of all, the Leader is there on the couch, ready for me to lay down next to her.
I don’t mind visiting the farm, but nothing beats being back with my pack.
Thankfully, the Iowa Republican caucuses are tomorrow. I don’t think I could take even one more day of breathless reports about the latest polling data.
I’ve written before about how the Iowa polls seem like Fortune’s Wheel — constantly turning, with always-new, surging would-be frontrunners who quickly crash and burn and then are replaced with latest darling. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and now Newt Gingrich have all had their time at the top of the wheel, followed by speedy tumbles to the bottom. According to the final Des Moines Register poll, the latest candidate to catch fire is Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania who is popular among social conservatives. The poll reports that Santorum has broken into the top three, trailing only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Gingrich, the former flavor of the month, apparently has talked his way back into the pack of also-rans.
The polls make voters in the Hawkeye State seem as silly and fickle as a crush-addled teenager. Given that, perhaps reporters should stop writing critically about how Romney can’t seem to be break through the 30 percent barrier and write admiringly instead about his ability to steadily retain a solid core of support among an undecided and capricious Iowa electorate.