One of Tuesday night’s big questions is whether the Democrats will retain their narrow majority in the Senate.
Ten senators will not seek re-election this cycle, the most retirements since 1996, according to NBC News. The defeat of Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana in the GOP primary means there are potentially 11 new faces joining the Senate come 2013.
Democrats now possess a 53-47 majority in the Senate. That includes the votes of two independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut) who usually caucus with the left.
For much of the year, many pundits believed the GOP was strongly favored to seize control of the Senate, because the right needed to turn only four seats to become the majority (or three if Mitt Romney wins the presidency, as the vice president breaks the tie in a 50-50 Senate). Compounding the problem for Democrats: They were defending 23 seats, many of them in reliably red states, compared with the Republicans’ 10.
But after Republicans nominated several far-right candidates who are suddenly underdogs in races that should have been easy GOP pickups – we’re looking at you Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock – Republicans are on their heels, and Democrats are favored to remain the Senate’s majority party.
Still, a number of Democratic seats could go Republican, including in Connecticut, Virginia, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana where the races remain close.
Meanwhile, there are a few Republican seats that could go Democratic: Indiana, Massachusetts, Arizona and Nevada.
Regardless of who wins the White House or Senate, Democrats are unlikely to regain control of the House. The left needs a net gain of 25 seats to win the majority they lost two years ago, and few analysts believe that number is realistic.