I've blogged a fair amount about the possibility that a handful of Senators could change their voting patterns this spring, summer, or fall. But another Jonathan -- Zasloff -- is way ahead of me in thinking about the next Congress. He asks: if Crist wins as an independent, with which party would he caucus? Good question! Of course, unless the margin in the Senate is very close, voting patterns may matter more than where a Senator caucuses (assuming those two decisions are independent of each other, which they might not be). My guess is that a Senator Crist (I-FL) would vote as a Florida version of the Maine Senators, but who knows?
It does make me think that it's worth listing some of the wild card Senators for the next Congress: Senators whose voting in the Senate is the most difficult to predict right now. I'm assuming a Democratic majority, with at least 52 and no more than, oh, 58 Democratic Senators -- in other words, their decisions will be in a world in which Democrats have solid control, but do not have 60. So, ranked based on how large a range of reasonable predictions would probably be (in other words, from most to least uncertainty):
1. Crist (if he wins as an indy).
2. McCain (if he's back) -- least predictable voting record of any pol, over time.
3. Lieberman -- does he drift right again in a more evenly balanced Senate? Could be. However, Dems could threaten his committee if they no longer need his vote so often.
4. Specter (if he's back) -- voted like a mainstream liberal Dem this Congress. Next one? Who knows? If he's back next year, he'll probably be planning a '16 run.
5. S. Brown -- we'll probably learn more this summer, but he's still pretty unformed.
6. Snowe -- no longer will be the swing voter; how will that affect her?
7. B. Nelson -- see Snowe.
Any other candidates for this list?
As with my speculations about Senators over the rest of this Congress, I'm not predicting anything. Just pointing out some people who are worth watching, because of the possibility of very large changes.