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Senate Elections 2012: The State Of The Senate

First Posted: 11/12/10 12:21 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Only a week after the 2010 midterms, it's difficult to tell how the 2012 senate elections will take shape. Any changes in the economy are likely to have a huge impact on the electoral environment and presidential year turnout is likely to make for a very different electorate than the one that showed up in 2010.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that 2006, the year when these senators were elected or last reelected, was a high point for Democrats. In the coming election cycle, Republicans will defend 10 seats, most in states that are likely to remain firmly in the Republican column. Democrats, on the other hand, will defend 22 seats plus attempt to replace Joe Lieberman with a more reliable Democratic vote. Many Democratic senators were swept in in 2006's pro-Democratic wave, some of them in close races. These senators could face tough battles for reelection in 2012. Without knowing more about what the electoral environment will look like in 2012, it seems likely that Republicans will have more chances to pick up seats than Democrats.

On the Republican side, continuing threats from the Tea Party could force otherwise safe Republicans to fight primary battles.

Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
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Kyl, who was first elected in 1994, was reelected with an 11 percentage point lead over his Democratic opponent in 2006, a strong year for Democrats. A recent poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for DailyKos.com, Kyl had a solid 47% approval rating, with 39% saying they disapproved. In the same poll, Kyl held a 53% to 39% lead in a hypothetical matchup against Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Arizonans reelected Sen. John McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010, both by strong margins, and supported McCain over Obama 55% to 45% in the 2008 presidential election. Kyl appears to be in a strong position to win reelection in 2012.
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