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Swing States Prepare for 2012, Redistricting

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama came close to winning Missouri in the 2008 presidential race. Democrats might hold their convention in St. Louis in 2012, and the Show Me State will retain battleground status in the next cycle given competitive contests on the ballot.

In 2012, things don’t look much better for Republicans in the state with 55 electoral votes. Obama won California in 2008 with 61 percent of the vote. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who will be 79 in two years, has hinted that she will run again. She won her last election by 24 points against an underfunded challenger, and so far it is unclear whether any top-tier GOP challenger will step forward in 2012.

With a depleted bank account and questionable bench of top GOP candidates, the California Republican Party has some rebuilding to do. Fiorina has been floated as a potential chairwoman of the state party given the current chairman is term-limited, but it’s not clear whether she’d have the support to lead the party.

Florida

The state GOP may have emerged stronger from the embarrassing arrest of former Chairman Jim Greer.

Greer stepped down in February and was charged with six counts of organized scheme to defraud, four counts of felony grand theft and one count of money laundering. It was a painful chapter for local Republicans but ultimately did not prevent the GOP from dominating the 2010 midterms. They credit the growth and autonomy of their state House and Senate committees in helping to generate major gains.

Sen.-elect Marco Rubio pounded Greer ally Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in the Sunshine State’s high-profile Senate contest. And Republicans now have veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate, in addition to controlling the governor’s office and virtually every other statewide office.

Such is the paradox of Florida, where even though Democrats hold a 5-point voter registration advantage, voters only narrowly supported Obama in 2008 and overwhelmingly voted for Republicans in the 2010 midterms.

Their 2010 performance gives the GOP sound control over the state’s redistricting process, expected to give Florida two new House seats. But two ballot measures passed in November limit the GOP’s ability to help incumbents and are expected to lead to a long and messy redistricting fight that will include several court challenges.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties are expected to select new chairmen in the coming year. And all eyes will be on Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, one of the only Democrats to hold a major elected office in Florida. And Florida will play host to the Republican National Convention.

New Hampshire

The Granite State GOP has been consistently outspent and out-staffed by its Democratic counterpart. It has also been forced to confront the growing belief that the traditional swing state has turned blue.

GOP Chairman John Sununu has something to say about that, telling Roll Call on Monday just before announcing he would not run for a second term as the leader of the state party, “The legend that New Hampshire had gone Democratic permanently was obviously not true.”

Indeed, under Sununu’s leadership, Republicans dominated the midterm elections, flipping the tiny state’s two House seats and maintaining control of the Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Judd Gregg. They also won veto-proof control of the state Legislature, a shift that may render Democratic Gov. John Lynch largely ineffective over the coming two years.

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