It has been clear for a long while now that the Democrats will increase their control of the US Senate, the question has always been by how much and can they reach the 60 votes required to win a vote on ‘cloture‘ and force though legislation. With several races in the bag and others that could go either way, I thought I would look at the races and state how likely it is that the Democrats will reach the magic number.
The Democrats currently control 51 seats in the 100 seat Senate. There are 35 senate elections occurring on November 4, 11 of which are considered competitive and 10 of those are currently held by the Republicans. The only Democratic seat in any danger is in Louisiana and is held by Mary Landrieu. The last poll conducted by a major polling organisation had her lead ballooning out to 53-37 on Aug 17, so she should now be safe.
The Republican seats that are almost certain to fall are Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Virginia. Alaska is looking sure to fall as well, where Sen. Ted Stevens is not only likely to lose his seat, but is also at risk of crossing his Bridge only to discover that while Nowhere lacks basic amenities, it does have a jail cell. That gets the Democrats to 56.
The seats that are currently statistical ties are Minnesota and Oregon, with North Carolina’s last 3 polls being 48-42 Rep, 35-35 Tie and 51-45 Dem for a average of 42.67 each. In Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker has held a lead of about 48-43 for a couple of months while in Maine, Susan Collins looks sure to retain her seat.
Taking the optimistic view that the economic situation will help the Democrats, it therefore leaves the Senate line-ball on either 59 or 60. A more reserved outlook however would put the Democrats on 56.
There is also the question of Joe Lieberman. If the Senate becomes 56-44, there is a chance that he would be thrown out of the party. However if the result is 59-60 then the need to ensure his vote will see him remain. Lieberman will not leave himself, as that would lose him his positions on committees, including 3 chairmanships. The Democrat numbers also include Independent Socialist Bernie Sanders from Vermont, but there is not question that he will continue to causus with the Democrats.