Could 2012 set the stage for another Republican wave in the House and Senate? It's looking that way.
Take a look at the math. Republicans have 12 open House seats from lawmakers either retiring or seeking other office. As of this week, Democrats have 20 who've announced they're calling it quits - some immediately but most at the end of this session of Congress. And who's to say there won't be more?
While Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this week bid farewell to concentrate on her recovery, other Democrats, like North Carolina's Brad Miller, saw the handwriting on the wall. If he were to run, Miller would need to stage a primary coup against another member of his party due to redistricting. Think of the expense: both monetarily and the potential for being politically divisive. After that fight, he'd have to take on a Republican challenger in the general election. That's a lot of fighting.
Speaking of fights, how about going up against the headwinds? The general public mood of lawmakers on Capitol Hill is "throw them all out!" That's what happens when you're tied to a "dysfunctional" Congress.
Recent polls suggest Democrats are positioned to do better than Republicans this fall. But don't believe everything you read. President Obama wasn't on the ballot in 2010, but he will be this time around. If he motivates more opponents than supporters, it will impact the candidates on the entire ticket. Meaning the Republican sweep could continue not only in the House, but in the Senate.
By the way, if you're interested in the math as it relates to the Senate: Democrats have 7 open seats; Republicans have three.