With the passing of Teddy Kennedy, many are asking who will step up and replace him. It’s a good question. One thing we know for sure is that the culture of the Senate is changing, and changing rapidly. We already know for a certainty that 10% of the Senate will not be back in 2011. The following ten senators are not running for relection.

    Kit Bond of Missouri
    Sam Brownback of Kansas
    Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    Roland Burris of Illinois
    Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    Ted Kaufman of Delaware
    Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts
    Mel Martinez of Florida
    George Voinovich of Ohio

There are also some members who may be voted out of office in the 2010 election. According to Nate Silver the most vulnerable incumbents are:

    Chris Dodd of Connecticut
    Harry Reid of Nevada
    Michael Bennet of Colorado
    Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
    Richard Burr of North Carolina
    Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas
    David Vitter of Louisiana

The odds are against any of those incumbents losing, but I’d be surprised if they all survive. The next session of Congress will probably see 10-12% turnover in the Senate. As things stand today, twenty-four senators first took their oath of office in 2007 or later. Two of the twenty-four (Burris and Kaufman) are retiring. But if we add the 10-12 new members that will enter the chamber in 2011 to the twenty-two relatively new members sworn in since 2007, we get about a third of the senate being made up of members who joined after the GOP’s meltdown in 2006.

Some may wonder how the partisan makeup of the chamber will change. But regardless of whether the Dems hold, lose, or increase their numbers, we know that it will have a lot of new blood. If all the incumbents are reelected, the Senate will still only have 54 members who voted on the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq (including 15 of the 23 that voted against it).

The big question is: what does it mean to have such a large turnover for the culture of the Senate? These new members won their seats in a horribly polarized environment. They won their seats with the assistance of a newly assertive grassroots (on the Democratic side) or on the platform of Bush dead-enderism and the Politics of Palin. Cross-aisle cooperation in the Senate is at an all-time low. Is there even a place for Teddy Kennedy’s style of deal-making anymore?

Who could break this impasse?

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