Senate Elections 2012

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The 2012 United States Senate elections, held November 6, 2012, included Republican, Democrat and Independent candidates vying for six-year terms and a seat in the 113th Congress. Democrats needed to defend 21 seats and Republicans needed only to defend 10 seats. Two seats held by Independents were up for election and lean Democrat: Bernie Sanders seeks re-election and Joe Lieberman is retiring.

Democrats' majority status and Harry Reid's Senate leadership are at stake. Some Democrats are grew uncomfortable and declined to endorse Obama's shift on gay marriage. Of the 33 Democrats who won their primaries, only 20 clearly stated their support for gay marriage while 8 stated their opposition. The Democratic Party adopted a pro-gay marriage plank in its platform.

On November 6, the RealClearPolitics website forecasted a 49-44 split favoring Democrats with 7 toss-up seats:

  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana (Rehberg-R v. Tester-D)
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Senate Contests

Ratings originally based on RealClearPolitics website forecast; forecasts revised here on September 9, 2012.

Safe Republican

* Mississippi

Republican Roger Wicker is the incumbent. He will face Democrat Albert N. Gore.

* Tennessee

Republican Bob Corker is the incumbent. He will face conservative Democrat Mark Clayton. Clayton will not have any help from his party.

* Texas

Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring. Tea party backed Ted Cruz will face Paul Sadler, who won his primary runoff for the Democrat nomination. Sadler is a backer of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

* Utah

Republican Orrin Hatch is the incumbent. Pete Ashdown is the Democrat challenger.

* Wyoming

Republican John Barrasso is the incumbent. He will face Democrat Tim Chestnut.

Likely Republican

* Nebraska

Democrat Ben Nelson is retiring. Pro-life Deb Fischer defeated RINO Jon Bruning for the Republican nomination; and will face Democrat Bob Kerrey.

Leans Republican

* Arizona

Republican Jon Kyl is retiring. Democrat Richard Carmona, who served as Surgeon General of the United States under George W. Bush, will face Republican Jeff Flake. Flake is endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund. The latest Rasmussen poll from September 25 has Flake up by 6 points at 47% to 41%.

* Indiana

Tea Party-backed Republican Richard Mourdock will face Democrat Joe Donnelly after defeating 35-year incumbent Republican Richard Lugar in the Republican primary. The latest Rasmussen poll from August 1 has Mourdock up by 2 points at 42% to 40%.

* Nevada

Republican Dean Heller was appointed in 2011 to replace John Ensign and is considered the incumbent. He faces Rep. Shelley Berkley who cruised to victory in the Democratic primary. The latest Rasmussen poll from September 18 has Heller up by 1 point at 42% to 41%.

Toss Up

* Florida

Democrat Bill Nelson is the incumbent. He will face Republican Representative Connie Mack. Polls show Nelson below the 50 percent mark, which is bad news for an incumbent and Nelson cannot win if Romney takes Florida, a must-win state for him. As of September 2012, Nelson leads Mack by about 8 percentage points, depending on the poll.[1]

* Missouri

Democrat Claire McCaskill is the incumbent and faces movement conservative Todd Akin, the Republican nominee. Since Akin's comments regarding pregnancy and "legitimate rape," Akin went from leading McCaskill by 6 points in prior polls to trailing her by 10 points in a Rasmussen Poll from August 22. The gap had lessened for Akin to 6 points in a September 12 poll, but grew again to an 8-point difference favoring McCaskill by an October 17 Rasmussen poll.[2] Now that Missouri has become what is likely to be a necessary win for Republicans to gain control of the Senate, and now that Akin can no longer drop from the race and be replaced by a different Republican on the ballot, he has received the support of a number of influential Republicans including Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum, and Roy Blunt.[3] This may give Akin the boost he needs to win.

* Massachusetts

Republican Scott Brown is the incumbent, and will face Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who served as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Barack Obama. Polling has this race in a tie. In a televised debate, Brown was asked if he would support Mitch McConnell for re-election as Senate leader, and Brown said that he was his own man and would not commit to supporting him. Brown said,

"I already let it be very clearly known to Mitch McConnell that I'm completely disgusted as to what's going on down there. He has a lot of work to do to earn my vote because I don't work for him or Harry Reid. That's the beauty of being independent."[4]

The most recent Rasmussen poll from October 25 gives Warren a lead of 52% to 47%,

* Michigan

Democrat Debbie Stabenow is the incumbent and will face Republican Pete Hoekstra.

* Montana

Democrat Jon Tester is the incumbent. He will face Republican Denny Rehberg. As of October 22, Rehberg and Tester are tied at 48% each according to a Rasmussen poll.[5]

* North Dakota

Democrat Kent Conrad is retiring. July polling has Republican Rick Berg leading Democrat Heidi Heitkamp by +5.

* Ohio

Democrat Sherrod Brown is the incumbent. He will face Republican Josh Mandel. Mandel has the backing of Senator Jim Demint. Brown has the backing of George Soros, the SEIU and the former ACORN.

* Virginia

Democrat Jim Webb is retiring. Democrat Tim Kaine will face Republican George Allen. Both candidates have previously served as Virginia governors and Allen served in the Senate until he was defeated by Webb. Polling has this race tied and may come down to which presidential candidate carries Virginia in November.

* Wisconsin

Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin will face Republican former Governor Tommy Thompson. The latest Rasmussen poll from September 17 has Baldwin up by 3 points, 49% to 46%.

Leans Democrat

* Connecticut

Independent Joe Lieberman is retiring. Democrat Chris Murphy will face Republican challenger Linda McMahon.

* Hawaii

Democrat Daniel Akaka is retiring. Democrat Mazie Hirono will face former Republican Governor Linda Lingle.

* New Mexico

Democrat Jeff Bingaman is retiring. Republican Heather Wilson will face Democrat Martin Heinrich.

Likely Democrat

* New Jersey

Democrat Bob Menendez is the incumbent. He will face Republican Joe Kyrillos .

* Pennsylvania

Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. is the incumbent. Republican Tom Smith is within 1 point in the race, Casey (D) 46%, Smith (R) 45%.[6]

* Washington

Democrat Maria Cantwell is the incumbent. Michael Baumgartner is the Republican challenger.

* West Virginia

Democrat Joe Manchin is the incumbent. He will face Republican John Raese. Barack Obama polls so poorly in this state that Manchin refuses to say who he'll vote for President. [1]

Safe Democrat

* California

Democrat Dianne Feinstein is the incumbent. She will face Republican Elizabeth Emken

* Delaware

Democrat Tom Carper is the incumbent. Businessman Kevin Wade is the Republican candidate.

* Maryland

Democrat Ben Cardin is the incumbent. He will face former Secret Service agent and Republican Dan Bongino.

* Minnesota

Democrat Amy Klobuchar is the incumbent. She will face Republican Kurt Bills.

* New York

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand is the incumbent. She will face Republican Wendy Long.

* Rhode Island

Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse is the incumbent. Republican Barry Hinckley the challenger.

* Vermont

Independent Bernie Sanders who caucuses with the Democrats is the incumbent. John MacGovern [R] is the Republican challenger.

Likely Independent

* Maine

Republican Olympia Snowe is retiring. Democrat Cynthia Dill and Republican Charlie Summers will face Independent former Gov. Angus King. Polling predicts King will be the victor. King's positions are viewed as generally liberal leaning, and he is being treated as the de facto Democrat by the Republican campaign. It is unclear with which party he would caucus, however.

States without a Senate race in 2012

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and South Dakota.


Republicans: Lost three seats, picked up one.
Democrats: Lost one seat, picked up two.
Independents: Picked up one seat which will caucus with the Democrats.
Senate Balance of Power after elections: 45R, 55D


  • Arizona (49.7% to 45.8%)
  • Mississippi (57.4% to 40.3%)
  • Nebraska (58.2% to 41.8%) (Was Democratic)
  • Nevada (45.9% to 44.7%)
  • Tennessee (64.9% to 30.4%)
  • Texas (56.6% to 40.5%)
  • Utah (65.2% to 30.2%)
  • Wyoming (75.9% to 21.6%)


  • California (61.6% to 38.4%)
  • Connecticut (55.2% to 43.2%)
  • Delaware (66.4% to 29.0%)
  • Florida (55.2% to 42.2%)
  • Hawaii (62.6% to 37.4%)
  • Indiana (49.9% to 434.3%) (Was Republican)
  • Maryland (55.3% to 26.6%) (Was Republican)
  • Massachusetts (53.7% to 46.3%)
  • Minnesota (65.3% to 30.6%)
  • Michigan (58.8% to 38.0%)
  • Missouri (54.7% to 39.2%)
  • Montana (48.7% to 44.8%)
  • New Mexico (51.0% to 45.4%)
  • New Jersey (58.5% to 39.8%)
  • New York (71.9% to 26.7%)
  • North Dakota (50.5% to 49.5%)
  • Ohio (50.3% to 45.1%)
  • Pennsylvania (53.6% to 44.7%)
  • Rhode Island (64.8% to 35.2%)
  • Virginia (52.5% to 47.5%)
  • Washington (60.2% to 39.8%)
  • West Virginia (60.5% to 36.5%)
  • Wisconsin (51.5% to 45.9%)


  • Maine (52.8% to 30.7%) (Was Republican)
  • Vermont (71.1% to 24.8%)

See also


  1. Florida Senate - Mack vs. Nelson, retrieved September 14, 2012
  2. Election 2012: Missouri Senate, retrieved September 21, 2012
  4. "In debate, Brown veers away from GOP", New Jersey Star Ledger, October 2, 2012. Retrieved on October 2, 2012. 
  5. Election 2012: Montana Senate, retrieved October 22, 2012
  6. Election 2012: Pennsylvania Senate