Our Alaska poll last week showed a pretty rough 35/51 approval breakdown for first term Senator Mark Begich. Those kinds of numbers hardly make Begich alone among the Democratic Senators elected for the first time in the wave years of 2006 and 2008 and it's a reminder of how important it is for the party to cut its losses this year- because structurally the next two cycles set up much worse, although it's impossible to say what the political climate will be like for those elections.
In the last year we've done approval polling on 9 of the 17 Democratic Senators first elected in the last two cycles. Two of them- Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar- have really good numbers. A third, Jim Webb, has pretty solid numbers but could have trouble next time anyway if he finds himself in an epic rematch with George Allen.
The other six we have numbers on- Claire McCaskill, Sherrod Brown, Robert Menendez, Mark Udall, Kay Hagan, and Begich all have net negative numbers and/or approval ratings under 40%. Our latest on McCaskill was a 42/45, for Brown it was 38/36, for Menendez 34/45, Udall 39/38, and Hagan 29/42.
These numbers obviously come at a rock bottom time for Democrats- 2012 and 2014 will probably be better for the party, especially if the Republicans do get back in charge. That's just the cycle of politics. But these folks are all so far from safety level sorts of numbers that you have to imagine they'll all have tough fights to keep their seats when the time comes. Do the Republicans have a good chance of taking the Senate this year? No. But they can certainly put themselves in a position to finish the job with a lot of freshman Democrats up the next couple times around.