That’s how many years it has been since one political party last had to defend more than twice as many Senate seats as the other party, as is the case in 2012.
The partisan distribution of seats on the Nov. 6 ballot is 23 Democratic and 10 Republican, the most lopsided ratio since 1980, when Democrats were the defending party in 24 contests and Republicans in 10 races. Republicans made a net gain of 12 seats and won a Senate majority in a year that coincided with Ronald Reagan’s landslide election as president.
Democrats are defending so many seats this year because they dominated Senate races six years ago. The Cook Political Report and other nonpartisan election analysts say that Democrats have a better than 50 percent chance of keeping their Senate majority despite having so many more seats at stake than Republicans.
Democrats now control 53 of the 100 Senate seats, so Republicans need a four-seat gain to win an outright majority. They could secure a majority with a three-seat gain and a victory by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, because the vice president casts tie-breaking votes.