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? Letâ€™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 â€œmagicâ€ 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, theyâ€™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 whoâ€™s gained little traction.
To make matters worse for Republicans, there arenâ€™t any Democratic controlled seats that appear vulnerable, although some Republicans are holding out hope that they can take Mary Landrieuâ€™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 Democratsâ€™ part. But I think itâ€™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 theyâ€™re slightly ahead and come from behind in one of the 3 vulnerable red states. Plus, itâ€™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.