Thursday, April 26, 2007

Getting to 60 in the Senate

I've spent plenty of time looking at Chicago especially with the municipal elections over with every now and then I will take a look at Washington. You know our nation's capital. The home of our national goverment and of course the home of the leader of the free world.

I was looking at The Fix from the Washington Post today and they talk about gaining 60 seats in the US Senate. What does that entail, you ask...
Controlling 60 seats is the holy grail in the Senate. It allows the majority party to block filibusters from the minority and truly run the chamber.

The last time a party held 60 or more seats was three decades ago when Democrats had 61 seats in the 95th Congress (1977-1979). But, the combination of a toxic political environment for Republicans and a relatively small number of Democratic vulnerabilities has skilled observers -- including Fix friend and Roll Call columnist Stu Rothenberg -- starting to talk about the possibility of Democrats getting to 60 in the next two or four years.
Oh wow this would be big news if it was to happen, especially now that Democrats have actually done the unthinkable and won control of the US Congress for the first time since 1995. It would be significant if the Democrats could regain 60 seats at they had during the term mentioned from The Fix. So The Fix talks about how this might be possible...
The One Cycle Scenario
There's no question that at this point in the 2008 cycle all signs point to Democratic gains. The American public long ago soured on both President Bush and the war in Iraq and there is little tangible evidence of a coming wholesale turnaround. Republicans have also been barraged by a series of troubling developments, from the mishandling of veterans care at Walter Reed to the ongoing investigation into the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. Many Republican strategists thought their party had hit rock bottom on Election Day 2006, but the political reality is that things have gotten measurably worse since then.

The raw numbers also point to a strong Democratic year in 2008. Democrats have just 12 seats to defend as compared to 21 for Republicans -- by far the best ratio of the three Senate classes. (The 2010 class has 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans; the 2012 class has 19 Democrats and 15 Republicans.)

But, it is not just the raw numbers. There are five obvious pickup opportunities for Democrats even at this early stage of the cycle: the open seat in Colorado as well as seats currently held by Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), and John Sununu (N.H.).
It goes on and on into analysis of individual states something I won't get into here. I'll let you go over there and read that, but here's the second possiblity...
The Two Cycle Scenario
Under this scenario, Democrats need to capitalize on the 21 GOP seats up for re-election in 2008 to put themselves in position to push the Senate majority to 60 seats in 2010.

As mentioned above, there are five good pickup opportunities already out there for Democrats in 2008: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon.

Let's say for the sake of argument they win four of those five.

And, let's guess that seats come open in Virginia, Nebraska and New Mexico. Assuming Warner runs, we'll put Virginia in the takeover category and New Mexico continues to trend Democratic so a pickup there isn't out of the question either.

That's a six seat gain. While Democrats didn't lose a single one of their seats in 2006, that seems unlikely to be repeated in 2008; Landrieu seems the most vulnerable. A loss by the Louisiana incumbent would leave Democrats' at 56 seats heading into 2009.

That means they would need to find four more pickups in the 2010 cycle. A quick scan reveals a handful of likely targets including Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), George Voinovich (Ohio) and Mel Martinez (Fla.). It's also anyone's guess whether Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is still around in 2010 when his seat comes up. If he isn't, Arizona will likely host a very competitive contest.

Democrats have a few concerns of their own -- Sens. Harry Reid (Nev.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Ken Salazar (Colo.) all could face real races and Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) may or may not still be in the chamber -- but have less exposure than their Republican counterparts.
One thing is true in life as they are in politics, you can't always get what you want when you want it. Of course if you're into the realm of political strategy then this is the type of stuff you want to plan for. The scenario you might think is either idea or preferable.

This was a pretty interesting post if you want to look at what's going on with strategy in the US Congress.

1 comment:

Rob said...

The holy grail! I do think Norm Coleman and Gordon Smith and maybe others are going away in 2008. But 60, that's a big number, and the "two-cycle scenario" is just too far in the future, who knows what politics will look like by 2010...

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