Today’s question:

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh said pointed partisanship caused his retirement. What does Bayh’s retirement mean for other centrist Democrats? Will Democrats be able to keep their Senate majority?

Michelle Bernard, President of the Independent Women’s Forum, said:

Sen. Bayh voiced his frustrations with Washington and Congress when explaining why he didn’t plan to seek a 3rd term. Yet surely part of his frustration lies with this past year when hopes were so high that President Obama would change the tone of politics, govern from the center, make the legislative process more open and deliberative and enact positive reforms for the country. Many Americans-in particular political independents-now tell pollsters they are more frustrated than ever with Washington. Sen. Bayh must share their frustration, and maybe he also worries that voters might take their frustrations out on him. If Sen. Bayh is really so disheartened by the political process, you would think he might want to stay and focus on working from within to change the process. Perhaps he thinks Washington is truly irredeemable.

Centrist Democrats, particularly those in states or districts that traditionally lean Republican, didn’t need the retirement of Bayh to get a sense of just how tough the upcoming election season will be for them. The Democratic loss of the Massachusetts’ Senate seat told the whole story. And no one should forget Virginia and New Jersey.  Bayh’s retirement may encourage a few more to make an early exit. Even a few months ago it seemed almost impossible to imagine that Democrats could lose control of the Senate. But unless something changes soon, I’d put Republican chances of a takeover at more than fifty percent.