Herb Kohl Retirement Affects U.S. Senate and 2012 Presidential Races

Today’s unsurprising announcement from Senator Herb Kohl that he will not seek reelection in 2012 has set off a cascade of speculation on who will step up to run for Wisconsin’s Senate seat.  Former Senator Russ Feingold seems to be the early favorite of Democrats, judging by Twitter traffic. On the Republican side, the national media are focusing on Congressman Paul Ryan as a potential contender, but Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and former Congressman Mark Neumann have been on the short list inside the state even before today’s news. We think Ryan will need to do some “Mitch Daniels like” deliberationon what he wants to do.

Political prognosticators were calling this Senate seat as likely to stay in Democrat’s hands prior to Kohl’s announcement.  Charlie Cook moved it firmly to the “toss-up” category today, while Stu Rothenberg changed his outlook on the race from “safe” to “lean” Democrat.

As for as the implications for the 2012 Presidential race, CivicForumPAC has listed Wisconsin in the “toss-up” column since we started tracking the race in February:

CivicForumPAC’s ongoing analysis of the Electoral College landscape for 2012 shows support for President Barack Obama ebbing.  Unfortunately for the would-be Republican nominees, at this point the support is moving to the toss-up column rather than directly to the GOP column.

A recently released USA Today/Gallup poll highlights the turbulence of the 2012 presidential race.


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