We know about Indiana's changes in Senate seniority — from Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh a few years ago to first-termers Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly. Although Coats served previously, his 12-year gap between terms puts him back in the pack, for the most part, when it comes to seniority.
BIPAC, the Business Industry Political Action Committee in Washington, has some interesting insights on the rapid changes in seniority across the country and some of the impacts.
Seniority in the U.S. Senate has always been viewed as beneficial. More senior members usually have increased clout in the chamber and higher positions in committees. However, in a year where almost half of the senators have been serving less than six years, lack of seniority and experience can also be a good thing. This is a great time to reach out to the newer members and introduce yourself and your issues.
There are currently 45 senators (this includes Senator Kerry's successor) that have served less than six years. In 11 states – Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin – both senators have served less than six years.
Since the 2012 elections, changes in the Hawaii and Massachusetts delegations have drastically altered seniority in both states and the Senate. When Senator Inouye passed away, the Senate lost its most senior member and Hawaii lost its seniority as a state in the chamber. Both Sens. Schatz and Hirono have served less than two months, a major change from the long careers of Sens. Inouye and Akaka. Schatz is considered Hawaii's senior member, since he was sworn in on December 27, 2012 and Hirono was sworn in on January 3, 2013.
Now that Kerry has submitted his resignation to become Secretary of State, Massachusetts lost the seniority it held for decades. Kerry was the seventh most senior senator and Ted Kennedy, before he passed away, was the second most senior member. Once Kerry's seat is filled, both senators from Massachusetts will have been in office for less than a year (This will still hold true if Scott Brown is elected to take Kerry's seat. He lost his seniority when he left office in January 2013 after losing to Elizabeth Warren).
Two states that still hold considerable seniority in the Senate are Iowa and California. For Iowa, Senator Grassley is the sixth most senior senator, followed by Senator Harkin who is seventh. Iowa's position will change following the 2014 election now that Harkin has announced his retirement. California holds the 14th and 15th most senior spots, with Sens. Feinstein and Boxer. Senator Leahy from Vermont is the Senate's most senior member.