So, on key votes, the endangered Democratic senators are likely to dodge the bullets coming from the House and defect from Reid's majority. Why should they take the rap for blocking conservative legislation when they have a presidential veto backing them up at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue? "Let the president take the rap; why should I have to?" they will ask as they lend their assent to House-passed bills. The inability of President Obama to re-elect those who supported him hardly encourages others to risk their careers doing so.
Indeed, Reid can only regain his functioning majority if more Democrats choose to retire rather than face the music in 2012. If Kohl, Bingaman, Webb and Ben Nelson decide to retire after this term, the Democrats could have enough lame ducks to keep control of the Senate floor for one more cycle -- hardly a pleasing prospect for their party.
The result of the functional _Republican control of the Senate is that the forum for decision-making in a divided Washington will not be the conference committee, but rather White House negotiations between the two political parties.
It remains to be seen whether the endangered Democrats can save their Senate seats from the likely GOP tide of 2012 by switching in time to pretend to be moderates. What is clear is that they are not going to block the Republican bills coming over from the House.
The Democrats will still control the committees in the Senate, but the Republicans will own the floor.