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Nation’s Challenges Won’t Be Any Easier in 2011

Incumbents Bobby Jindal (R) in Louisiana and Steve Beshear (D) in Kentucky will start off as favorites for re-election, though Republicans are likely to mount a more serious threat to Beshear than Democrats will against Jindal.

In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour (R) can’t seek re-election, creating an open-seat opportunity for Democrats. But with Obama in the White House and Republicans on the rise in the Magnolia State — they won two Congressional districts last month — the GOP nominee will be a solid favorite in November. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant starts off as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

Most states will tackle redistricting over the next 12 months, producing maps that change some incumbents’ prospects and, quite possibly, push some Members into retirement or to run for higher office.

Finally, the turning of the calendar to 2011 will see a flurry of announcements  for the 2012 presidential race and for the Congressional elections.

Those announcements (and subsequent fundraising reports) will be important, but even more important will be the evolution of the political environment. How voters feel about government, the president, the two parties, the economy and other issues will determine how they evaluate the candidates and which candidates are likely to have staying power into 2012.

In other words, the next year won’t be boring.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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