Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have trouble hanging onto his majority title in the 113th Congress. On Tuesday, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) became the latest moderate Democrat (following Kent Conrad and Jim Webb, among others) to announce that he won't seek another term in the 2012 election. Nelson, who faced an uphill battle for a third term, is the sole Democrat in Nebraska's five-member congressional delegation, and many political analysts believe his red-state seat could now be a relatively easy Republican pickup. The GOP is working hard to wrest control of the Senate from the Dems in 2012, and only has to net four seats to flip the Dems' 53-47 majority in the 100-member Senate. Is Nelson's retirement a "significant blow" to Dems, or no biggie since he would have likely lost his re-election bid anyway?
This is a big loss for Dems: Nelson's retirement "puts Republicans one seat closer to a majority," Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy tells Bloomberg. I simply "don't see a path to victory for Democrats in Nebraska." Nelson is hardly perfect, Rothenberg Political Report's Nathan Gonzales tells Bloomberg, but he was the Dems' best bet in the Cornhusker State. And remember, Democrats are already "defending eight out of the 10 most competitive seats in the country." This is a "significant blow" in the Left's quest to keep the Senate.
"Nelson's retirement hurts Senate Dems' in 2012"
But Nelson would have lost anyway: This isn't such a big deal, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Though I'm reluctant "to underestimate the power of incumbency," you can bet Nelson wouldn't have been re-elected in this "very red state." "The man couldn't even eat a pizza in peace after casting a decisive vote for ObamaCare and tossing his pro-life credentials into the wastebasket by doing so." He would have surely been replaced by "a credible Republican candidate." This development doesn't change "the calculus in Nebraska."
"Breaking: Nelson to retire"
This might even be good for Dems: Of course, this looks "like a very tough break for Team Blue," says David Nir at Daily Kos. But there could be "a silver lining." If "Nelson really had no hope of winning another term, then a ton of resources would have been wasted on a futile attempt to save him." Now, if losing his seat is a foregone conclusion, Democrats can focus on defending seats they actually have a chance of keeping, not to mention helping new candidates, like Shelley Berkley in Nevada and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. They actually stand a chance of picking up new seats for the Dems.
"NE-Sen: Democrat Ben Nelson reportedly will announce retirement"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Chuck Hagel was a huge mistake
- Want to eliminate the scourge of frat culture? Lower the drinking age.
- 5 quick things you can do today to boost your creativity
- What would it take for humans to build a settlement on Mars?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why we gossip, according to science
- Yes, the Obama administration's green loans are unprofitable. They should be.
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week