Most Lawmakers Will Likely Be Reelected

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 3 2012 3:53 PM

Congress is Likely To Stay Pretty Much the Same After Tuesday

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Figures of Grief and History on the Peace Monument stand near the U.S. Capitol building

Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

Approval ratings of the U.S. Congress may have reached new lows over the past two years, but even so, the vast majority of lawmakers are likely to stay in place. When it comes to Congress, the biggest winner on Election Day will likely be the status quo. Republicans were long seen as favored to win the Senate, now it’s likely the Democrats will continue to hold the majority by a slim margin, with a small possibility that there will be a 50-50 split. At least 15 senators of the 22 seeking another term are likely to win, while in the House, 330 lawmakers will probably retain their seat, according to the Associated Press. How come lawmakers won’t get penalized for running a Congress that both the public and scholars have rated as horribly inefficient? In part, it has to do with the redrawing of congressional districts that helps reelection efforts. But it also has to do with the trusty power and cash that come with being an incumbent.

Democrats have said they’re confident they’ll be able to keep their 53-47 advantage in the Senate. If they manage to do so they will have the Republicans to thank. “A GOP Senate isn’t impossible, but it may have been foiled by the Republicans themselves,” writes NBC’s Tom Curry. Of the 33 seats on the ballot, 23 are held by Democrats and 10 by Republicans, a split that clearly shows how the GOP could have pursued more of an offensive strategy. Yet Republicans often found themselves on the defensive this election season, trying to paper over controversial statements by several contenders.

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After all, when one candidate – Richard Mourdock of Indiana – calls a pregnancy from rape a “gift from God” and another – Todd Akin of Missouri – talks of “legitimate rape” it can make some think the GOP is too conservative for their states.   For now three Senate seats are seen as genuine toss-ups: Montana, Virginia, and Wisconsin, all of which are now held by Democrats, points out Reuters.

In Virginia and Montana, Democrats are retiring, while in Montana, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is battling with Rep. Dennis Rehberg, points out the AP. Lots of attention is also being paid to the Massachusetts race, where Republican Sen. Scott Brown appears to be losing ground to Elizabeth Warren.

Not even Democrats believe there’s a chance they'll be able to pick up the 25 seats they need to win over the House.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.