In 2014, Republicans will have 14 US Senate seats to defend. On the upside for the GOP minority, all of these seats should be safe. These seats were last contested in 2008, when President Obama had tremendous coat-tails in carrying down-ticket Democratic candidates to victory. These Republicans survived – often easily – and mostly appear safe for 2014, in what are mostly GOP-leaning states. If anything, these seats are more likely to see bigger competition in possible primaries than in a general election.
Likely Republican Holds
Right now, there is only a list of likely Republican holds, because most of the seats remain very safe. Thirteen of the 14 states here were won by double digits in 2008 (again, a Democratic sweep year), and all states were won by both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, except for Maine. Until developments make a seat competitive, the GOP side has just one column. .
* Alabama - Jeff Sessions would be 67 if he runs for re-election. He won by a healthy 26-point margin in 2008.
* Georgia – Saxby Chambliss has opted against running in 2014. In the 2008 general election (with Obama on the ballot), Chambliss topped his Democratic opponent by just 3 points. Neither candidate hit 50%, and in Georgia that means there is a runoff election. In the runoff election held just a month later and without Obama on the ballot, Chambliss won by a comfortable 15-point margin. Until a potential field starts to shape up, this seat will stay in the GOP column.
* Idaho – Jim Risch won by 24-points in 2008 and announced he is running for re-election.
* Kansas – Pat Roberts easily won with 60% of the vote in his last outing and will be safe in this deep red state.
* Kentucky – Mitch McConnell was the lone single-digit victor in 2008, winning by 6-points. But like in Georgia that year, Obama gave Kentucky Democrats a stronger-than-usual boost in votes. McConnell should see a more favorable mid-term electorate.
* Maine – Susan Collins stated in March 2013 she planned on running for another term. While Republicans cheered when her colleague Olympia Snowe retired, that seat immediately became uncompetitive for Republicans. If the GOP wants to win the Senate, Snow will likely be a key factor.
* Mississippi – Thad Cochran was first elected in 1978 and he has won every election since by at least 20 points. He will be 76 if he decides to run again in 2014, but either way the seat should be safely Republican.
* Nebraska – Mike Johanns won by 18-points in 2008 but has decided not to run again. Sarah Palin-backed Deb Fischer won the other US Senate seat in Nebraska back for Republicans by a healthy 16 points in 2012. This race will probably be decided in the primary.
* Oklahoma – Jim Inhofe has won 3 straight elections with exactly 57% of the vote. But he will be 80 in 2014. He is safe if he runs again, and the GOP has a number of options if he retires.
* South Carolina – Lindsey Graham won by 16-points in 2008. His name often pops up as a target for a GOP primary challenge given his past and "a href="http://usconservatives.about.com/od/glossaryterms/g/The-Establishment-Definition-Of-The-Republican-Establishment.htm"> moderate positions on illegal immigration, climate change, and his role in the “gang of 14” that helped prevent conservative nominees from being nominated to various judicial benches.
* South Carolina Special Election – When Jim DeMint retired to head the Heritage Foundation, Governor Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to the seat. With so many seats to defend themselves, this will probably not be a major target for Democrats.
* Tennessee – Lamar Alexander has announced he will run for re-election after winning by a hefty 32-point margin in 2008.
* Texas – John Cornyn is serving in his second term and should be safe for the GOP whether he runs or not. The Democrats view Julian Castro as their future in Texas and may push him towards a run either here or in the race for Governor.
* Wyoming – Mike Enzi won by 52 points in 2008 and would be a lock should he run again. He would be 70. If he were to retire, Liz Cheney recently moved to Washington and might be interested in competing for the seat.