Thursday, October 30, 2008

Senate Update

Here's our Senate update. There is no doubt that the Democrats will retain control of the United States Senate, however, the question is how big of a majority will they have.
The magic number for the Democrats is 60. With 60 seats, their majority becomes, at least in theory, filibuster proof. Unlike any other legislative body, 40 percent can set the agenda by bringing legislation to a halt through a procedural move called a filibuster. Long gone are the days when Senators actually take to the floor and stall legislation through "debating it to death." All that happens today is a Senator calls for a filibuster and if he or she can get 39 other Senators to go along, the legislation is killed.

Even if the Democrats do get the 60 seat majority, it doesn't mean the end of the road for the GOP, because the Democrats will have to rely on Lieberman (I-CT) and a few other conservative Democrats to tow the line (Ben Nelson D-NE, Mary Landrieu D-LA, and Mark Pryor D-AR). With that said, here's our look.

There are 37 Democrats plus 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats who are not up for election. There are 26 Republicans not up for election. There are 35 seats contested in this election. The names in bold are Democratic pick ups. There are no Democratic seats in danger of a party change.

Safe GOP (9)

Sessions (AL), Risch (ID), Roberts (KS), Cochran (MS), Inhofe (OK), Graham (SC), Alexander (TN), Barrasso (WY), and Enzi (WY).

Safe Dem (15)

Pryor (AR), Biden (DE), Durbin (IL), Harkin (IA), Kerry (MA), Levin (MI), Baucus (MT), Lautenberg (NJ), Reed (RI), Johnson (SD), Rockefeller (WV) Warner (VA), Udall (NM), Udall (CO), Begich (AK)

Likely GOP (4)

Johanns (NE), Cornyn (TX), Collins (ME), Wicker (MS)

Likely Dem (2)

Landrieu (LA), Shaneen (NH),

Lean GOP (2)

McConnell (KY), Chambliss (GA)

Lean Dem (2)

Hagan (NC), Merkley (OR)

Toss Up (1)

Coleman/Franken (MN) (Coleman is the incumbent Republican)

We believe the Democrats will pick up eight seats by winning all the seats which are lean, likely, or safe, and the Minnesota seat. The Republicans will hold all the seats listed as safe, likely, and lean. That means a 59 seat majority for the Democrats. Their most likely way to get to 60 is to pick off Saxby Chambliss in Georgia. A tremendous African-American turn out could end Chambliss's Senate career.

Prediction of new Senate: Democrats (with the two independents) 59, Republicans 41.