Can Dems Really Reach 60 Senate Seats?

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Congress, Democrats, Republicans

With the Democratic turnout predicted to be extremely high this election, there is now serious talk of a 60-seat Democratic Senate majority propelled by Democratic turnout in red states. Is this filibuster-proof Democratic majority a real possibility? Let’s look.

Currently, the Democrats control 49 Senate seats with the independents Bernie Sanders (VT) and Joe Lieberman (CT) caucusing with the Dems to give the party 51 votes. That means a net gain of 9 seats would give the Dems the “magic” number 60. That seems like a lot, but circumstances are working against the Republicans as 23 of the 35 seats up for reelection are Republican seats. And this is not a good year to be a Republican.

According to the poll analyses of electoral-vote.com, Democrats are leading in 8 of the 23 races for seats currently controlled by the GOP. That means the Democrats can be optimistic about picking up seats in Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia. But the races in Alaska, Minnesota, North Carolina and Oregon are close and are by no means sure wins.

If the Dems can grab all 8 of those seats, they’ll still need one more for their supermajority. That one could come from Georgia, Kentucky or Mississippi where Republicans are running just slightly ahead of their Democratic challenger and are thus most vulnerable to a Democratic vote surge. If things go horribly wrong for the GOP, they could potentially lose seats in Maine and Texas as well, although Susan Collins (ME) is well up in the polls and John Cornyn (TX), while not wildly popular, is up against an uncharismatic challenger who’s gained little traction.

To make matters worse for Republicans, there aren’t any Democratic controlled seats that appear vulnerable, although some Republicans are holding out hope that they can take Mary Landrieu’s seat in Louisiana despite the incumbent being comfortably ahead in the polls.

So, based on the numbers, a 60 seat Democratic majority is a real possibility and not just wishful thinking on the Democrats’ part. But I think it’s going to require a nearly perfect confluence of events and long Obama coattails. Right now, Dems can only count on a net gain of 4 seats. They need to win all 4 of the elections in which they’re slightly ahead and come from behind in one of the 3 vulnerable red states. Plus, it’s important to note that the 60 seat goal also depands on Lieberman continuing to caucus with the Democrats.

Ultimately, I think Democrats will fall short of the 60 vote supermajority, but they will increase their power and force the Republicans to maintain tight party unity if they want to mount any successful filibusters. Republicans won’t be looking back fondly on 2008.


This entry was posted on Monday, October 27th, 2008 and is filed under Congress, Democrats, Republicans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Can Dems Really Reach 60 Senate Seats?”

  1. Pico Says:

    I’m thinking the Democrats will take that Georgia senate seat due to the Obama campaign dropping some serious cash in the state (thus presumably having an effective ground game) and a huge increase in turnout for the African American vote. This increased turnout could push the Mississippi senate seat to the Dems as well, but I think it’s less likely. Obama could actually be a drag on the dem ticket in Kentucky, so the GOP should be able to hold onto that one. We’ll see.

  2. Dave K Says:

    This line is so overhyped it’s not funny. Even with 60, the Dems aren’t going to steam roll anything. The fact is Senators report to state populations, not the party, and not all Dems have similar bases. It might be a little easier, but it will still be extremely difficult.

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