Today's starter topic: Will the GOP take the Senate this fall? National Review blogger Jim Geraghty thinks that prospect is not as certain as previously thought:
A Republican-controlled Senate in 2012 looks less likely than it did a few weeks ago, but the prospect for GOP gains is still quite solid.
Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs this cycle, seven are occupied by Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents who are not seeking reelection, three are occupied by Republicans who are not seeking reelection, 16 are occupied by Democrats seeking reelection, and seven are occupied by Republicans seeking reelection. This is the class of senators last elected in 2006, a midterm election that almost could not have gone worse for the GOP.
A few recent developments may indicate good news for Republicans, however. Last week the House voted to repeal the IPAB portion of Obamacare, a 15-member panel that will, beginning in the 2015 fiscal year, make binding recommendations for cost-cutting in Medicare treatment. This is the potentially care-denying, unelected authority that some Republicans characterize as “death panels.” Four House Democrats running for the Senate this cycle — Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana — all voted in support of IPAB. On paper, this represented a risk-free way for these Democrats to distance themselves from one of Obamacare’s more controversial provisions; instead, all four doubled down in support of the least popular part of the law.