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Cook Political Report Names First 2012 Targets Cook Political Report Names First 2012 Targets

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Cook Political Report Names First 2012 Targets

Democrats Ben Nelson from Nebraska and Jim Webb from Virginia, two of those in toss-up races, must win in states that swung hard toward the GOP this year. Nelson must defend his vote for the unpopular health care bill and so-called "Cornhusker kickback," while the one-term incumbent Webb has yet to confirm he won't retire from the Senate.

West Virginia's Joe Manchin (D) also is in a toss-up race, according to the Report, after winning his special election for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) seat in November.

Democrats must defend 23 seats in 2012, leading many to speculate their tenuous three-seat hold on the Senate majority is in serious jeopardy. But the party does have at least two decent chances at winning GOP-held seats, the Report says, including winning back the seat Sen. Scott Brown famously won during January's special election in Massachusetts.

The report says his and maligned Sen. John Ensign's (R) seat in Nevada are toss-ups.

If the campaign season slows down on any front the next two years, it will be at the gubernatorial level. Only 14 races for governor will take place during the next election cycle - three in 2011 and 11 in 2012. Democrats must defend nine of them. 

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