Presidential Race Isn’t The Only Race To Watch


Presidential Race Isn’t The Only Race To Watch

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By Kristie L. Arslan

On Nov. 6, 2012, voters will head to the polls not just to elect the President, but also cast their votes in crucial down ballot elections including gubernatorial, senate, congressional and other state-related races. While control of the White House is the prime objective for both Democrats and Republicans, the majorities in the Senate and House are equally important in order for legislative priorities to move forward.

U.S. Senate
The 100-person deliberative body of the U. S. Senate is unique for several reasons. Members seek re-election every six years, and unless one party holds a super-majority with 60 or more of that chamber’s seats, it is designed to be the locus of bi-partisan efforts and legislative compromise.

This election cycle, there are 33 Senate races, with 10 seats open due to retirement or primary loss and 23 incumbents seeking re-election. Democrats are defending more incumbent seats than Republicans; however, it would be nearly impossible for the Republicans or Democrats to reach a super-majority or for the Senate to switch from the current Democratic majority. 

The six toss-up races—Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, North Dakota, Nevada and Wisconsin—could swing the majority one way or the other, but right now those contests are too close to call. There is a small chance (less than 1 percent) that the Senate could end up being split evenly among Democrats and Republicans with 50 seats each—an interesting possibility to consider. In the event of an even split between the parties, the Vice President would be the tie-breaker for any votes.

House of Representatives
Unlike the U.S. Senate, most analysts have maintained it would be highly unlikely for the Republicans to lose the majority in the House. Democrats would have to pick up more than 30 seats to overtake the Republican majority, nearly impossible given the number of safe Republican seats (192) and the low number of pure toss-up races (16).

The Democrats are expected to eat away at the Republican majority, however, by about nine seats. Control by one party of the White House, Senate and House remains unlikely. However, having control of two out of the three is nothing to scoff at, as that party will be able to exert significant influence over the legislative process.

Kristie L. Arslan is president and CEO of the NASE and provides critical insight to policymakers on issues affecting our nation’s self-employed. You can contact her at

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