With his announcement Wednesday, Baird, a six-term Congressman from Washington state, became the third Democrat this year to announce plans to retire. Six other House Democrats are leaving at the close of the 111th Congress to seek another office.
The National Republican Congressional Committee heralded Baird's decision as a sign that "Democrat incumbents are feeling the ground shaking underneath them" as they head into the next cycle.
Not so fast, argues Ryan Rudominer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Rudominer pointed out that at this time in 2007, roughly one year before the GOP took a beating for the second straight election cycle, 15 House Republicans had announced their retirement. Three more Republicans had chosen to leave their seats in pursuit of higher office.
"All year long, national Republicans have predicted a tidal wave of Democratic retirements and just like they falsely predicted winning last month in a seat that had been Republican since the Civil War, we haven't seen anything like the number of Republican retirements at this point last cycle," Rudominer said in an e-mail.
Though the political landscape looks good for House Republicans next year, Democrats have not seen the same wave of retirements that occured before Republicans famously took back the House in 1994, when 28 Democrats chose not to seek re-election.
But Ken Spain, communications director for the NRCC, insisted that Republican victories in the the Virginia and New Jersey governor's races have incumbent Democrats starting to re-think their futures.
"Democrats can spin their retirement problem all they want, but they know deep down that members of their caucus are looking at the same abysmal poll numbers as everyone else and wondering if it is better to retire now or lose in November," Spain told CNN.