Tuesday 18 September 2007
Next year, as in every even year, one third of the Senate seats are up for election. The Democrats will be defending 12 seats, whilst the Republicans must defend 22.Observers of US Congressional elections have long recognised the strength of the "incumbency factor". While a few sitting members may be defeated (as happened in 2006), being in office gives a tremendous advantage in an election. [It is usually easier to raise money; there is greater name recognition and constituency service enables a sitting member to build more relationships with electors]. When a member retires, the seat is known as an 'open seat', and the liklihood of a change in the party holding the seat increases significantly. This factor is less pronounced in UK General Elections - though there is some evidence of it increasing in recent years.
The fact that there are three senior Republicans who have announced their retirement at the 2008 elections, has therefore excited observers. Senators John Warner (Virginia); Chuck Hagel (Nebraska) and Wayne Allard (Colorado) are the three retirees. 2008 could be an interesting year!