From a strictly mathematical standpoint, the 2012 election is not looking good for the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party holds a solid majority in the House of Representatives , and the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority, also chances also seem likely to tilt into GOP control.
Indeed, the election numbers don’t seem likely to break for Senate Democrats in 2012 at all. Of the chamber’s 100 seats, 53 caucus with the Democrats, including Independent Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Thirty-three Senate seats will be in play for the 2012 cycle, with Republicans needing to pick up only four seats to gain a majority
The most striking reason that the GOP looks well positioned to win the Senate is, of course, the sour state of the economy. With unemployment around 9 percent, Democratic senators will have a tough time defending the Obama economic record, since voters tend to assign economic blame or credit to the party controlling the presidency.
Beyond the conspicuousness of big issues, though, simple math isn’t favoring the Democrats. Simply put, Democrats are much more vulnerable in seats that are up for grabs next November than Republicans. Democrats control 23 of the 33 seats up for election next year—and at least six senators who caucus with the Democrats are going to retire, while two more Democratic incumbents have yet to confirm whether they will run for re-election. The number of Republican senators who are not up for re-election this cycle, meanwhile, is just two.
Even the 2010 Census looms over the 2012 elections—in a way that again favors the Republicans. In the first election after every census, the government reapportions the seats between the states to reflect population shifts. In general, seats were lost in the Northeast and Midwest, where Democrats have traditionally performed well; and the Southeast and Southwest—traditional strongholds for the GOP–gained seats.
Republicans control most of the state legislatures in the 10 states picking up additional House seats, including 4 seats in the heavily Republican state of Texas, which most certainly see the new congressional districts being drawn up with boundaries favoring the Republicans.
Of course, the above is the simplest kind of political math. With 24/7 news cycles and the volatility that accompanies those cycles, a year is still a very long time. The presidency may be a toss-up at this point, but to those with a predisposition to view matters from a mathematical perspective, the mathematics of politics may be one possible reason the Republicans are holding so adamantly to extreme positions with such fearlessness.