The surprise announcement by Governor Ritter of Colorado does not directly affect the Senate, of course, but it does add to the sense that the Democrats are in retreat – especially in a part of the country, the Mountain West, where the party had made dramatic inroads in recent years. Senator Dorgan, a Democratic stalwart in a red state, also caught his party by surprise in deciding to retire. Dorgan, a three-term senator with a total of 40 years in public service, comes from the old school that believes in working across the aisle. His seat is now in the “lean Republican” column in the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
All in all, says Jennifer Duffy, the Senate and statehouse watcher at Cook Political, it’s been a crazy year, politically. Obama himself is partly to blame, as he raided the Senate for Cabinet picks, not to mention the fact that his own former Senate seat and that of Vice President Joe Biden could go Republican in November.
“The cycle started with us asking, ‘How many more seats can the Democrats actually pick up?’ to a point where, now all we talk about is how many seats they’re going to lose,” says Ms. Duffy. “You’ve seen this big shift in the political environment and seats that were only a little bit vulnerable becoming more vulnerable, like Colorado.”