Start counting chickens: Republicans are hopeful about capturing the Senate in 2012. With North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad retiring, at least seven races currently look to be toss-ups, and the GOP only needs four of them for a majority. Competitive races include North Dakota, Virginia, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Florida, and Ohio, plus maybe Wisconsin, if Herb Kohl retires, and Hawaii, if Governor Linda Lingle challenges Daniel Akaka. The sole bright spot for liberals? Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman—long a thorn in their side (though an instrumental senator in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)—is retiring.