Last week's election was bad for Democrats. The next one could be worse. Senate Democrats running in 2012 will be trying to hold their jobs in states where Republicans just scored major congressional and gubernatorial victories - Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Virginia.
The Democrats' problems don't end with senators.
President Barack Obama carried those states in 2008, and he will need most of them to win re-election in two years. But this time they all will have Republican governors. These GOP governors can try to inhibit the president's policies and campaign operations. They also can help steer next year's once-a-decade House redistricting process in the GOP's favor.
Moreover, Democrats must defend Senate seats in hotly contested Missouri, and in four states that Obama has little chance of winning, assuming he even tries: North Dakota, Nebraska, West Virginia and Montana.
The 2012 Senate map is much kinder to Republicans, who must defend 10 seats to the Democrats' 23. Except for Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who will fight an uphill re-election battle in Massachusetts, the GOP probably will be favored to keep the Senate seats it now holds.
Democrats will try to win back some of the 60 House seats they lost to Republicans last week, but several factors will work against them. Republicans won gubernatorial and state legislative races in dozens of states. That will give them total or substantial control of the often partisan redrawing of House districts that will occur next year, following the latest U.S. Census. It's likely to result in several new GOP-leaning districts in states such as Texas at the expense of Democratic-leaning districts in the Rust Belt.
Democrats may find it especially hard to win back Southern seats lost last week by white Democrats, who are becoming almost extinct in much of the former Confederacy. And if Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains her party's House leader, Republicans will tell voters that Democrats did not learn their lesson from the 2010 election and need more convincing.