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Friday Senate Line: Is 62 Democrats' Magic Number?

Earlier this week, we explored the possibility of Senate Democrats controlling 60 seats following the fall election -- a scenario we deemed a long shot at best.

In the interim, two addenda occurred to us.

Friday Line

The first, pointed out by NBC's Matthew Berger, is the tenuous relationship between Senate Democrats and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). While Lieberman currently caucuses with Democrats, he has emerged as one of the leading critics of Barack Obama and is being actively mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for John McCain.

As you might guess, that doesn't sit very well with Democrats, many of whom are urging -- privately and publicly -- to toss Lieberman out of the Democratic caucus when Congress reconvenes in January.

Lieberman and Bayh
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) are both on the vice presidential short list but with different candidates. (Photo by Freddie Lee/FOX News Sunday via Getty Images)

Lieberman could also decide that he and his Democratic colleagues no longer see eye to eye and simply become a caucus of one or even head over to the Republican conference if he so chose.

Either way, Democrats would be down a seat -- even if their dream 60-seat scenario comes to pass in November.

The second is the possibility that Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) will be named by Obama as his vice presidential choice -- a move that, if Obama were to win in November, would create a vacant seat in a state that currently has a Republican governor and tilts toward the GOP at the federal level.

That possibility puts even more importance on the race between Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson(D) going on in the Hoosier State this fall. Should Daniels win re-election he would almost certainly appoint a Republican to replace Bayh (perhaps even himself?), an appointment that would reduce Democrats' ranks by one seat until 2010.

Given these two variables, it seems as though if Democrats really want to be safe in their filibuster-proof majority, they would need to claim 11 pickups in November, a total that would bring them to 62 seats in the upper chamber. And that is a VERY tall order.

As always, the number one ranked race on the Line is the most likely to switch parties in the fall. Kudos and critiques are welcome in the comments section below.

To the Line!

10. North Carolina (R): Some Democrats seem to think that beating Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) is simple. It's not. The incumbent (and her campaign team) are savvy -- as evidenced by her television onslaught a few months back that built her a comfortable polling lead. State Sen. Kay Hagan is a good candidate and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is already showing their financial commitment to this contest. But, it's still a very tough road. (Previous ranking: 9)

9. Mississippi (R): Every public (and private) poll we've seen shows former governor Ronnie Musgrove (D) and appointed Sen. Roger Wicker (R) in a dead heat. The confessions of two businessmen that they attempted to bribe Musgrove when he was governor won't help his campaign but national Democrats are going at Wicker with both barrels as well. (Previous ranking: 8)

8. Oregon (R): Sen. Gordon Smith (R) is a better candidate than state House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D). But, there were 200,000 more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in Oregon at the end of June, and the DSCC seems committed to spend whatever it takes to beat the GOP incumbent. (Previous ranking: 6)

7. Minnesota (R): Comedian Al Franken's (D) campaign has settled down nicely over the past few weeks -- stopping the bleeding and turning toward substance. And, Sen. Norm Coleman (R) is going to continue to face questions in the coming months about his housing situation while in Washington. (Previous ranking: 10)

6. Louisiana (D): The Fix can't figure this race out. Democrats believe Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is doing everything right and should be ranked closer to ten on the Line; Republicans argue this is a very winnable contest that should be in the top five. For now we are sticking it here although state Treasurer John Kennedy needs to start showing some life sooner rather than later. (Previous ranking: 7)

5. Colorado (R): Three factors are responsible for the tightening of this open seat race. First, former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) has managed to stay out of his own way for the past month. Second, a myriad of outside groups are pounding Rep. Mark Udall (D) on television. And, third, Colorado is a state that still tilts ever so slightly toward Republicans. (Previous ranking: 3)

4. New Hampshire (R): Of the last three public polls in this contest, two show Sen. John Sununu (R) trailing former governor Jeanne Shaheen (D) by mid-single digits -- a major improvement in the incumbent's standing from earlier this year. Still, glossing over the fact that Sununu is still behind this late in the cycle would be a mistake. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Alaska (R): Even before Sen. Ted Stevens (R) was indicted by a federal grand jury last month, he was trailing Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) in most publicly released polls. If Stevens isn't acquitted (or winds up losing the primary) this seat is a lost cause for Republicans. (Previous ranking: 5)

2. New Mexico (R): Rep. Steve Pearce's (R) campaign is touting the fact that retiring Sen. Pete Domenici(R) is endorsing the congressman -- a mere TWO months after the GOP primary ended. Ruh-roh. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Virginia (R): Will former governor Mark Warner follow in the footsteps of the last keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention? (Previous ranking: 1)

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 15, 2008; 6:07 AM ET
Categories:  The Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama's Savvy Convention Move
Next: Friday Veepstakes Line: Crunch Time!


I hope you simply forgot Maine, or we really need to get to business up here. I personally think Tom Allen has a better chance of ousting Susan Collins than Kay Hagan has a chance of ousting Elizabeth Dole.

I think we need Obama to make a joint appearance or two with Tom Allen sometime in the next few months.

Posted by: Steve Charb | August 16, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

think ralph reed knows "whatever happened to tom delay?"

Posted by: jeff | August 15, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Scrivener - so, can we expect a big fat apology from you when Gore isn't nominated? I'd settle for the end of gratuitous links.

And I WILL promise to apologize deeply and publicly and stop posting if anyone other than Obama is nominated.

BTW - where are those 10 delegates I asked you to identify who are going to switch from Obama? I didn't think so.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | August 15, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wins, there's no way Lieberman switches his support; all that would do is lose him his committee chairmanship (which he should lose anyway, in my opinion, once the Democratic majority is safer).

Regarding the below ranking of the Senate races in tiers, I would say that Musgrove in Mississippi doesn't need a Dem landslide to win; he just needs a good boost in black turnout and to do well among white voters; Musgrove is a conservative, well-known fellow, so his victory will depend on if Obama boosts black turnout sufficiently and Musgrove himself sells himself to enough white voters, which he's done before.

Posted by: SC | August 15, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I am wondering if this election is going to be quite outside normal patterns. The fact the Obama seems to have energized a lot of otherwise non voters, for instance, and the fact that either John or his handlers, alternately keep finding ways to try to alienate presumed active baseline conservatives doesn't seem to being looked at by pollers used to using tested questions that don't fit this model. (I know that pollsters is the term, it is just a bad term. Pollsters run polls. Pollers ask the actual questions). From the Brady fallacy, through the Landen misfit, to other phenomena not in the standard model, the polling seems to be still "Last Century" experience.

Problems that nay skew results:

The capture of the libertarian party: In 2000 some very prescient republicans hijacked the American Reform Party and gave it to Pat Buchannon, who still almost cost George the election. Now it seems that the Libertarians have been hijacked and handed to Bob Barr, surely the least likely candidate to draw many votes, period, and so unlikely to damage McCain. If McCain does drive conservative to vote for Barr, and there is a conservative available on the Libertarian ticket, will they split and stay Republican or give the GOP the second finger salute as well. Could Barr have coattails in the Senate races that aren't being looked for?

Has the electorate turned surly, thereby giving the sample a set that it really doesn't have? Truly surly voters can't be counted on to live up to the answers they gave the pollers.

The Landen misfit updated: Pollers predicted a Landen victory, because they had used telephone polling in the infancy of the art, and got a sample that was significantly different than the population it was supposed to model. Is cell phone only cohort of the population properly accounted for? There is every reason to expect that that cohort will most definitely NOT split the way the general population splits.

The contrarian surprise: Poll after poll finds the general population, and most subsets of it, unhappy with the republican Party and its President, yet Obama doesn't seem to benefit as he might. Could some of that discrepancy be, not the Brady effect, but the anti-Sandinista effect, like the election in Nicaragua, where all of the polls except the real one seemed to show the Sandinistas winning, right up until they lost big time. Could disgust with the lawlessness of the Republican Administration now manifest itself in a willingness to lie back to the party in charge? This seems especially apropos since there are so many "Hillary Backers" of dubious standing calling for Dems to become Republicans because Hillary didn't win. Ronald Reagan kept insisting all those years that he really was a Democrat, but he shared no values with the party, and never voted for its candidates.

The dissembling about "I USED to be a Democrat may have produced a real backlash that comes out as voters saying they like McCain when they have written him off for all the many reasons he has given them?

Polling requires models that work in reliable consistency. Bush, his Party, and the press have given the electorate big reason to change. If the population changes, the model has to change, or the surveying techniques stop having relevance.

(And my prediction, at least two more big bad scandalous reports assault the Republicans, the economy keeps cutting McCain's throat, and John alienates just a few too many Evangelicals. Obama carries all contested Senate seats for the Dems, bar finishes second in many of those races.

Ross Perot revives the American Reform Party, and it makes significant gains in the 2010 elections, mostly against Republican incumbents and front runners.

Posted by: | August 15, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman isn't going anywhere unless McCain wins (in which case, as noted above, the Ds may pick up a seat in AZ). Here's the deal Lieberman gets offered in Jan 2009: You were a schmuck... but there's still a lot we agree on, especially domestic policy. You can keep your chairmanship and seniority in return for NEVER voting against cloture with the Rs. If you join one Republican filibuster, you're history. I think it's a reasonable deal for both parties... with 55-56 seats, the Ds won't need him on the actual votes.

Posted by: Pat | August 15, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree with this ranking. I also agree Landrieu is tough to call, but I really don't think it can be above 6 under any legit criteria. I know you love the 1-10, but it's really a set of tiers (not incl. Landrieu, the only remotely vulnerable D):
1) sure bets -- VA and NM
2) almost sure bets -- AK, NH and CO (probably in that order of certainty, though they're all above 90% chances). Something needs to dramatically change in these races for the R to win.
3) Obama blue-state wave -- MN, OR, ME (again, probably in that order). Kerry won these states by 4, 4 and 9, respectively. These guys will likely hang on if McCain keeps it to single mid-single digits in these states. If Obama is winning these states by 10+ points, it will be tough for the Rs in these states to find enough ticket-splitters to win.
4) national D / Obama blowout -- MS, NC, KY, GA, TX, ID, OK, KS, NE (in order of likelihood). I don't see the Ds winning any of these barring a national tsunami or some race-specific mega story. The first half of this list is Southern states; for the D to win, he'd need epic black turnout AND Obama's share of the white vote to increase markedly from its current polling (i.e. ticket-splitters won't get the D candidate there). The second half represents a 1984- or 1936-style armegeddon for McCain and the Rs. A few months ago, I thought this was possible, but I don't really anymore. The only way this happens is if the race really becomes a referendum on Bush -- i.e., he invades Iran or something of the sort.

Posted by: Pat | August 15, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Two new polls paint a better picture of the Senate races in AK and ME, as Stevens is sinking against Begich but Collins is increasing her already sizable lead in Maine. It seems difficult to imagine Dems getting to 62 without that latter race. Full roundup of these polls (and more):

Posted by: Dan | August 15, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Even if Lieberman were to leave Democratic caucus, he would likely vote with them to get a floor vote on such issues as Obama's judicial nominees.

Posted by: JDNash | August 15, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Schumer the chair of the Senate Campaign Committee, better hope for a big pickup this year.
Cause we New Yorkers are dumping him & his "main steam" racist colleague as soon as we can.

Posted by: Miri NY | August 15, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

madhatter writes
"I can't believe that the people of Minnesota would elect Al Franken"

Problem is we got tweedledum in the seat now & the DFL decided to encourage Franken before realizing the deep yogurt the Repubs were in. This is a tough race to handicap - MN voters are ticket-splitters, so there could easily be a large BHO victory with Coleman retaining his seat - not unlike the 2006 election where Pawlenty held on by the skin of his teeth & Klobuchar blew out mini-Coleman Mark Kennedy.

Posted by: bsimon | August 15, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Forget aqbout McCain choosing Lieberman as his VP - ain't gonna happen. Lieberman is hated by dems, hated in his home state, is pro-choice and caucuses withthe democrats - how are you gonna sell that to the Republican base? What would Lieberman do in any positive way for McCain?

Posted by: NM Moderate | August 15, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that the people of Minnesota would elect Al Franken who was the Rush Limbaugh-like host of the Democraps AirAmerica Radio Show that ripped off the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club Charity of Harlem, New York for $875,000 in order to keep that show on the air. This charity served the poor black children of Harlem, helped the elderly, and AID's sufferers. Because this Democrap Radio Show couldn't raise enough money selling advertizing to stay in business on their own, they diverted $875,000 from this charity to stay in business. Al Franken was the AirAmerica Radio Show's big star then and probably was in on the scam. This charity because of this Democrap orchestrated rip-off is now no more, and they even had to pay back a lot of the charity monies given them. Is this slimeball what the Minnesotans want to represent them? I hope not.

Posted by: madhatter | August 15, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey Chris...
Will you tell your colleague Dana Millbank to comment on "President" McCain's decision to dispatch his diplomats Lieberman and Graham to Georgia to "defuse" the situation. You cuz McCain is not just a Senator, he's President too now.
What does Millbank think of the audacity of "President" McCain?

Posted by: JakeD's shadow | August 15, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

12:31 Anonymous: Those Republicans don't need to switch parties; they can just vote for cloture with the Democrats.

Roy: This isn't about vetoes, it's about ending filibusters. If Obama is president, Senate Republicans can still filibuster.

Posted by: Blarg | August 15, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

This whole idea is brainless. If Obama wins, it wont matter and if McCane wins, there is no chance that the Democrats will win enough seats. Even 60 Democrats would not be veto proof because of the mavric pseudo Republican Democrats.

Posted by: roy | August 15, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

doesnt olbermann need his butt wiped...go for it cilizza

Posted by: marktarheel | August 15, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

doesnt olbermann need his butt wiped...go for it cilizza

Posted by: marktarheel | August 15, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Dwight, in your post "I have never seen so many jackasses ready to have their taxes increased and their citizenship cheapened...",
were you referring to Minnesota's taxes under Governor Pawlenty? I agree with you that my property taxes have never been so high, in Minnesota, as under Pawty's administration. However, who am I to stop McCain from losing his presidential bid by selecting Pawlenty?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

If the dems get close to 60 you will probably see several moderate republican switch parties.Spector,Smith, Collin are a few that might.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Too many "if's" in your calculations. And IF Lieberman is picked for McCain's VP, and IF McCain wins, Democrats will for sure pick up a "real" Democratic seat in Connecticut. But how likely are those "if's?"

Posted by: Follitics | August 15, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Because Molnau is bad enough as Lt. Governor.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 11:25 AM

Even if what you post is true it goes to show the level of Pawlenty's (do you mean corrupt?) appointees just like I posted below concerning his judicial appointees.

Posted by: Patricia Gould | August 15, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Come on Chris lets be serious. Not even Dems think they will get above the 55-56 range. That's enough so that they can stop worrying about upsetting the turncoat Lieberman.

Posted by: yadda yadda | August 15, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I have never seen so many jackasses ready to have their taxes increased and their citizenship cheapened...

Posted by: dwight | August 15, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

What you say about Bayh would also be true about Dodd, since CT has a Republican Governor.

Seems like Lieberman really has the Dems over a barrel. If they win 60 seats, and he decides not to vote with them on organizing the Senate (either abstains or votes with GOP), they're down to 59. If he becomes McShame's running mate and they win, Gov. Rell will appoint a Republican, and they're also down to 59.

The unlikeliest scenario is the only one that works for them--he decides to stay a member of the Democratic Caucus.

Posted by: RayL | August 15, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Again Chris, Thank you for making Minnesota a
National issue, but the reason that Pawty is
not liked in Minnesota has little to do with his lt. Gov., but his own behavior like shown below:


Facts and Issues:

Judge Holter, Ninth Judicial District, lost his re-election bid to Judge John Melbye, but after losing his re-election bid, he submitted his retirement request to Governor Pawlenty to be re-seated to serve on the bench again in the Ninth District as a serving retired judge.
For the Governor to re-seat Holter, to serve as a retired judge, allows Holter to circumvent the electorates' will, and, at minimum, violates the spirit or intent of the MN Constitution and the State 490 Statutes, or, as you say, the LAW.

My husband and I contacted the Governor's Director of Communications, Mr. McClung's office, and received a call back later in the day, by a person that identified herself as (Kelly) who told my husband that the Governor's Office doesn't have anything to do with retired judges, which is not true, see MN statute 490. Kelly also stated that the Governor's Office has no response concerning disenfranchising the voters in the Ninth District. When my husband asked Kelly to verify if the Governor really didn't have any response about disenfranchising 300,000 northern Minnesotan voters and if I could quote her response, in a news article, Kelly said only the Governor's communications office could be quoted, which is again not true, My husband talked to an attorney who stated that anyone in the Governor's Office could be quoted, but as you admitted Pawty
does not keep his promises or in other words his word it is easy to see, according to your words, why Pawty would not want to be quoted, certainly since the information being given by the Gov. office was false. Also, I contacted the Sec. of State office and received the signed order by Pawty. Again, anyone can ask for this information. Now as to the Judge here are a couple of sites with information on the Judge.

Seeing that the Governor has indeed wrongfully accepted Holter's retirement, effectively what the Governor has done is to secretly overturn the voters' of the Ninth District's will, thereby, disenfranchising them which is a serious violation of public faith. Also, depending on how one reads the MN Constitution and the MN 490 statues, it could also place the Governor's action in violation of, as you say, THE LAW and the MN Constitution.

Even if the acceptance of Holter's retirement was not a strict violation of the MN Constitution and the 490 statutes, it was clearly a violation of the intent of both. Although the MN 490 statutes allow a Governor to retire a sitting judge, in good standing, it is clear that the statutes and the Constitution did not envision the re-seating of an electorally defeated judge.

By the way this is not the first judge in trouble that Pawty retired, after the Judge was in trouble.

Posted by: Patricia Gould | August 15, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Oh how funny! So Dream On,Dream On,Gurly Boy Silly Crissie the WAPO Obama Shill!

Posted by: Sherry Kay 2004 | August 15, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse


Please do a column on which R Senators (Snowe, Spector) might be picked off by the Dems to shut down fillibusters on what issues..............and vice versa if you must.......

Posted by: suigenerous | August 15, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"AS rumer here in Indiana is that Gov. Daniels would appoint himself to fill Bayh seat."

Will that work? That was tried here (MN), once, but the voters didn't care for the maneuver - and promptly dumped former-Governor-self-appointed-to-Senator Wendell Anderson at the next election.

Posted by: bsimon | August 15, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Picking Minnesota's Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty as his running mate might cost McCain more votes in the state than he will gain.
Posted by: Patricia Gould | August 15, 2008 11:04 AM

Because Molnau is bad enough as Lt. Governor.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

TO HARRY: He's not "entitled," just as Hillary wasn't entitled.

So the Dems have to go with a flagging candidate who has abandoned or vacillated on core positions because... he had a black father and a white mother?

That is reverse racism. Obama triedd to paly that race card with his "Obama dollah" comment, but it doesn't wash.

Ask Jesse Jackson, Bob Johnson of BET, Philly Mayor Michael Nutter, etc., if they think blacks would revolt if the Dems passed over Obama for the top job and made him vice president -- not a bad job, as I'm sure Dick Cheney would tell you.

The delegates won't be cowled into nominating Obama in fear of offending the blacks. BULLETIN: You're assuming his support among black voters hasn't wavered with his embrace of the widening of the death penalty, his flip-flop on gun control, and several other key issues.

Let's not stereotype.

This sense of entitlement didn't work for Hillary and it won't work for Obama. There is a better way that leaves everyone involved a winner -- the candidates, the party, and the people. And that is:


Posted by: scrivener | August 15, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Sorry ...A rumor

Posted by: Jim Arnold | August 15, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

AS rumer here in Indiana is that Gov. Daniels would appoint himself to fill Bayh seat.

Posted by: jin arnold | August 15, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

A few years back the Republicans tried to eliminate the filibuster. If (big if) Obama wins the race for President what's to stop the Democrats from doing the same thing? The GOP is using it for just about everything, so it's more of an impediment now than it was when the GOP was in charge. The best part would be to watch Sen. McConnell's response. The net effect would be to make the Democrats "magic number" pretty much zero, but would put the onus onto them to govern in a manner that they would never loose their majority, IE doing the peoples business and not their own.

Posted by: Thomas Fiore | August 15, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I'm from Minnesota and will vote for incumbent Norm Coleman because he truly is pro-life unlike our governor. Speaking of our governor, (although I do not trust the polls this year this poll does shed some truth on how Minnesotans feel about Pawlenty) A Rasmussen poll "found that a third of those polled in Minnesota say they're less likely to vote for McCain if Gov. Pawlenty is on the ticket.

Picking Minnesota's Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty as his running mate might cost McCain more votes in the state than he will gain. Thirty-four percent (34%) of Minnesota voters say they are less likely to vote for the GOP candidate if Pawlenty is the vice presidential nominee, while 28% say it makes them more likely to vote for McCain. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it will have no impact on how they vote.

Nearly a third of unaffiliated voters (32%), however, say putting Pawlenty on the GOP ticket makes them less likely to vote for it, while 22% say it makes them more likely to vote for McCain.

Only 11% say McCain is Very Likely to pick Pawlenty."
Let's not forget that when Pawlenty was taking the voice from the Hennepin County voters that he was also taking the voice from the babies in the womb and ignoring his own party and a number of Democrats to add a pro-life amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. The Democrats would have worked with the Republicans to add a pro-life amendment to Minnesota's Constitution. All the bill needed was Pawlenty's support. Pawlenty, instead of providing support, was having a heck of a lot of fun "it was a lot of fun" taking the voters' rights from them on behalf of his billionaire friend for this mentioned ballpark
He drove changing the law to override the voice of the taxpayers, for the purpose of providing a 700 Million dollar taxpayer loan to his Billionaire buddy, and said that taking the voice of the people was "a lot of fun".
Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice states that residential property taxes have increased $1.4 billion since Pawlenty took office. That is $866 per household.

Posted by: Patricia Gould | August 15, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

One of the important considerations is a filibuster-proof majority on Iraq issues. When you consider the 3-4 Republicans who are anti-war, a 57-58 Dem plus 3-4 Repubs would allow Reid to get a House backed anti-war bill to the floor for a vote. It's also important for Obama to consider how a VP choice would affect the Senate prize as you point out. Biden and Richardson would be OK as those states would replace with a Dem. Bayh would be bad as shown. Of course, Obama would have to win first in any event.

Posted by: Jim Daniel | August 15, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse


I think your analysis of CO seat has issues since it has been Shaffer who has taken the fight to Udall. It was Udall supporters who attacked Shaffer as energy Bob, but when gas hit $4 a gallon the “anti” production people lose support among independent voters. It has been Shaffer and others who have exploited this issue and have made this a race. I think your Shaffer comment “stay out of his own way for the past month” is a little condescending and under values Shaffer work (you show your color on this write-up). It has been Udall who has had to change his position on energy production.

I see many on this web site and knowledgeable politicians who rightly say the oil explored today will not be in production until 5-7 years; however, what they fail to realize (I assume they are not being deceptively manipulative) the fact that the futures market is strongly influence by future production and part of the current run up in oil is because the futures market does not see current production meeting future energy demands.

Posted by: sltiowa | August 15, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Correction to previous post. McCain's policy is to talk loud and conveniently forget that he doesnt have a big stick to back his belligerence up

Posted by: nclwtk | August 15, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Is this blog about talking about what you feel like or talking about the subject at hand. One more comment about a revolt at the Dem. convention and maybe I'll start posting BS, 24/4

Re Lieberman, if there could be a recall election for Senators Connecticut voters would surely pull the plug on Joe. He is a legend in his own mind and his views hardly reflect those of his constituants.
I wish McCain would put Lieberman on the Ticket as then the voters would be confronted with two candidates with extremely hardcore views on foreign policy/the military. Listening to McCain it seems his policy is to Talk loud and forget that he has a really big stick to use anymore

Posted by: Nclwtk | August 15, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse


while one can certainly appreciate the passion that motivates you to write so exhaustively, one does wonder why you are still beating the drum for another candidate besides Barack Obama. Although it is possible that he is NOT the strongest candidate one could imagine, he IS the candidate. Al Gore MIGHT have longer coattails, but he is not running. For the record, I think, come election day, that Obama's coattails will prove to be quite satisfactorily lengthy despite his height.

Posted by: dch | August 15, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if Chris will let me double-post on the same day but the fantasies that Scrivener and others spin about a "coup-d'etat" at the Dem. Convention that would take the nomination away from Sen. Obama is true science fiction.

Anything that results in Obama being denied the nomination at this point would literally destroy the Democratic Party--African-Americans could never be reconciled to any Democratic ticket without Obama at the top and many fair-minded Democrats of whatever race, creed or degree of liberalness/conservatism would simply not accept such a corrupt bargain.

I have no doubt that Al Gore would love to be president but not this way and I can't believe that Hillary Clinton would support such an effort: why would she publicly stick a knife in Obama when she and Bill can keep on sticking the knife in him every day with and not leave fingerprints.

Posted by: Harry | August 15, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I was "Anonymous" at 10:30A.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | August 15, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

There is no "magic" number--in fact, if people were to stop thinking that only magic will change things, they might start to work together. If we are going to have a chance to make progress on alternative fuels, healthcare or any other number of issues, we are still going to need legislators of both parties working in good faith. Can 2008 be an election that could be so transformative? I don't know but there is a growing sense out there that this one is going to be huge. When one looks at the individual races and rationally handicaps the chances of each candidate, I can see how the above column makes sense, but when you consider the amorphous "national mood" you can imagine all kinds of scenarios that take out candidates not even mentioned on "the line" and gives others unthinkable majorities.

Posted by: dch | August 15, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Blarg, Optimyst, and Harry have all made sound points. The other day I raised Harry's argument in an amplification of Blarg's similar comment of that day.

From CC's list, neither 8. nor 7. would be worth as much to the Ds as any of the other R incumbents. For the Rs, LA is a biggie -
this John Kennedy would not easily vote against his R caucus.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, then, the best strategy for Obama is to pick a moderate Republican Senator from a state with a Dem governor. Perhaps Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins?

Posted by: bsimon | August 15, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse


The closeness of many of the contests outlined in Chris' piece auger for the strongest candidate to be nominated by the Dems at their convention.

The strongest Dem who is ready and able is Al Gore.

Is he willing? If the delegates prevent Obama from being nominated on the first ballot, Hillary Clinton can become the kingmaker and party healer by throwing her delegates and her support to Al Gore.

Gore could then name Obama as his veepee pick and heal the party to grand and joyous acclaim.

This script already may have been written. Who knows? Maybe Obama himself has signed off on it, knowing it's his best way to avoid the label of political eunuch.

As for Hillary, she may finally realize that her marital baggage prevents her nomination. Perhaps she just may be satisfied with a Supreme Court appointment by President Gore.

Hillary is not a harridan. She is saving the Dem party from suicide by mass hypnosis.

BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not when government-supported "vigilante injustice" squads are targeting Americans outside of the bounds of the law:

Posted by: scrivener | August 15, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Blarg has it entirely right: this "filibuster-proof" 60 seats thing is entirely pointless except as fodder for the punderati to thumb-suck in the political doldrums of mid-August.

Maine Sens. Collins/Snowe and Oregon Sen. Smith, in particular, often vote with the Dems on a particularly important bill. Penn. Sen. Spector and others much less often but still occasionally. And yes, even Sen. Lieberman--if rightly forced to caucus with the Republicans--would vote with the Dems on at least some important legislation (presuming that he has maintained any allegiance to the people of Connecticut.

So all this "filibuster-analytics" is simply column-filling at a time when there's not a lot around to fill columns.

Posted by: Harry | August 15, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why we still put up with this. Why do we let one group have such power? Just because half the time, they kind-of represent some of our views? Sincerely, I do not think senators of either party represent more than 10% of what I truly value.

The politicos don't see it coming, but the Metagovernment project or another government-via-Web-2.0 project is going to make them all obsolete very soon.

Posted by: GW | August 15, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

If getting close to 60 is so important, and I think it is, it would seem to me that Bayh would have to have considerable advantages over Biden to risk losing a senate seat over. I think Obama will keep Bayh in the senate.

Posted by: Optimyst | August 15, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

chris got sent this the 'smornin...don't know if you have seen it

baracky II

Posted by: dl | August 15, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Since we will obviously not know the final Senate outcome till after the election, one thing is critical: No matter what you think of the GOP or McCain, the only way to stop the terrifying prospect of an Obama-Reid-Pelosi far, far left triumvirate is to make sure Obama is not elected. And the only way to guarantee compromise and somewhat moderate government from 2009 till 2011 is to make sure McCain is there as a balance.

Posted by: jayjay9 | August 15, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

OK, Anonymous, here's why you're so completely and utterly wrong in everything you've just said.

1) There is no evidence of "buyer's remorse" among superdelegates. I would challenge you to provide any form of evidence.

2) The same tired argument about CA, NY, MA, NJ. In each and every one of the Feb. 5 Primaries in those states, Barack Obama received as many or more votes than the Republican winner and runner-up combined. (He also did the same in winning GA and VA).

The differential in turnout was astronomical during primary season, even when both the R and D races were competitive. The model for polling is based on an even number of Democrats and Republicans, then a smaller number of Independents. Based on what we've seen in 2008, it's a huge assumption that D and R turnout will be similar in November.

The polling is probably not getting this one right, pure and simple.

Posted by: JamesCH | August 15, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse
I could care very very little less about who wins. Whether it be the guy that's too old or the guy that's too young. If I am not running, the best possible guy in my mind's eye can't win. Ha! *humor*
Humor is sorely absent in the cut-throat world of politics and war.

Posted by: CurtisNeeley | August 15, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

There might be some surprises in Senate races not currently on The Line. Too bad Larry Craig is not running for re-election, but other incumbent Republicans might be embarrassed by revelations.

And what about Maine? Is Susan Collins really coasting to re-election?

Posted by: harlemboy | August 15, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

It's also interesting to note that if McCain picks Lieberman, itself a HUGE if, the Connecticut Senate seat would be open. Although their state senate is trying to change the laws on the books so that they can fill the vacancy (currently tabled), as it stands, the governor (a Republican) would likely appoint another Republican.

Posted by: Jeff | August 15, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

First, you make a good point with Lieberman, but kicking him out of the caucus may not mean that he won't vote with them on most things. I'd bet he would vote the same as if he was still in the caucus (absent any revenge votes). As much of a heartburn as he is for Democrats right now, he'd be much more of one for the Republicans if he caucused with them but voted against them on everything but the war.

Second, to Anonymous at 7:56 - What pollster is still polling Clinton/McCain matchups? Show me one from less than a month ago. Just because McCain is advertising like crazy because he has to empty his campaign coffers doesn't mean he's gaining significant ground. Personally, I wouldn't want Clinton to be the nominee at this point. She has no organization anymore, and the one that she had during the primaries was a disgrace to her political potential. Look at any electoral college projection based on statewide polls and Obama is leading every one, so cool it.

Posted by: J.P. | August 15, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter whether Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats or Republicans. The issue is how he votes, not which side he chooses to be on. Currently he votes with the Republicans on foreign policy and (generally) with the Democrats on domestic policy. If Lieberman officially declares himself to be Republican-aligned, he'll still vote with the Democrats on many issues.

Stop obsessing over 60 seats. Having 60 votes on a particular bill is important. having 60 seats in general is not. Remember that not every Senator votes with his/her party 100% of the time.

Posted by: Blarg | August 15, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse


you can delete this cause it is totally off topic but if you haven't seen this the 'smorning...


Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Another scenario comes to mind: in the (admittedly unlikely) event that McCain wins the election, his replacement would be appointed by Janet Napolitano, a Democrat.

As for shooing Lieberman out of the Democratic caucus, this seems a bit like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Although his offensive (more in terms of what he says than that he says it) advocacy of McCain certainly will cause Democratic senators to gag, he is a much more natural fit for the Democratic caucus and his vote on most issues (e.g., labor, health care, abortion) is much more closely aligned with the Democratic party than with the Republicans.

Posted by: launcelot | August 15, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Still, glossing over the fact that Sununu is still behind this late in the cycle would be a mistake. "

If that's true, then why isn't it a mistake to gloss over the fact that McCain is behind this late in the cycle?

Posted by: Just Wonderin' | August 15, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Clinton's name will be put in nomination at convention;

Senator Clinton & super delegates can still take the Democratic
presidential nomination at the last minute by taking advantage of ever
growing buyer's remorse among Democratic super-delegates who are
dismayed by the performance of Senator Obama's camp.

Senator Obama has raised tens of millions more dollars than Senator
McCain, which should translate into an advantage in the polls. The
economy is doing poorly, Republicans control the White House and the
incumbent party is blamed for a bad economy, Democrats feel should have
translated into an advantage in the polls. Still has not...

Senator McCain is old and is unpopular with his party's base because he
has broken with conservatives on taxes, global warming, torture, and
campaign speech limitations. Again Democrats think should translate into
an advantage at the polls, but hasn't.

President Bush, is most unpopular President in history, blamed for the
Iraq War. Three bestseller books Bush-bashing; Democrats think that this
too, should translate into an advantage in polls. Despite all these
factors, Senator Mr. McCain is running roughly even in the polls with
the "presumptive" Democratic nominee. At a time when cable media has
saintly coroneted Obama for an entire year and continue to do so should
be way ahead but isn't? Again Dem buyer's remorse.

History Lesson:
In early Aug 1988, Governor Dukakis was ahead of Vice President Bush by
a wide margin. In early August 04 Kerry was ahead of President Bush.
Since Obama have proven without a doubt he can't close the deal as with
Senator Clinton in the primaries, he continues to disappoint democrats
since he doesn't have a big lead even now, it will get pretty ugly for
the Democrats as November approaches. Once again, voters are only now
beginning to realize the mainstream media like CNN & MSNBC did not cover
this election fairly or correctly, FCC does not dictate that cable news
pundits report fair and balanced news. This is seen all day on CNN
pushing Obama. Finally is coming back to bite them as democrats "BUYER
REMORSE" with Obama is growing rapidly.

It will only get worse when McCain and Obama face off in
Presidential debates. The public is just now discovering that Obama,
silver-tongued orator, is no debater - which explains why his camp did
its best to dodge debate invitations from Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain.
Feature Mr. Obama's flubbering on the outbreak of war between Russia and
Georgia. (Obama does poorly unscripted)

Is all this enough to prompt Democratic super-delegates to re-think
Their allegiance to Mr. Obama and hand the nomination to Senator
Clinton? Possibly? Allot of rumbling has been growing in the Democratic
Party since Senator Clinton suspended her run.

Fact: If you count Michigan, Mrs. Clinton won the reported popular
Vote in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, 17.8 million to 17.5
Million, and won many of the hotly contested big battleground states
That the Democrats need to win in November - Pennsylvania, Ohio,
California, New York, New Jersey, Florida. She won Massachusetts even
After Senators Kennedy and Kerry endorsed Mr. Obama.

Take away the delegates Mr. Obama has by virtue of the endorsement of
Senator Edwards, who has newly admitted deceiving the electorate about
The adultery he committed while his wife lay stricken with cancer,
delegate gap is even narrower. Obama doesn't have enough delegates to
win the nomination without the super-delegates, so there wouldn't be
anything terribly exceptional about the super-delegates putting her
rather than him over the top. Especially now that it proven she is the
stronger candidate against the republicans is why they wanted to run
against Obama.

By the time the convention rolls around, Mr. Obama isn't just running
neck and neck with Mr. McCain but could be lagging in addition to the
release of public polls still showing Senator Clinton doing better than
Obama in matchups against Mr. McCain in battleground states two months
after suspending her run has caused great concern Democratic Party

Add the new anti-Obama book debuted on the top of the best seller list
proves media failed viewers and they are beginning to really look at
this guy. Showing Obama not fundamentally American in his thinking
and in his values or friends and advisors, second (as anticipated) Obama
makes a big blunder with his choice of a running mate, added to the fact
Rev Wrights book and tour start in Oct (which is already causing
whispers swirling among super delegates) Obama may very well be out...

Bias Cable news pundits done presume to tell the Democrats whom to
nominate, We have no illusions about the ultra-long-shot of Mrs.
Clinton's chances of actually emerging as the Democratic nominee, even
with poor leadership by Pelosi and Dean, but truth being its not
technically impossible, as
Mr. Obama is no doubt aware.

Voters are watching and not listening to cable pundits, Obama skipped a
visit to a military hospital in Germany. He spent this weekend on
vacation in Hawaii. While Senator Clinton spent last week visiting
wounded service members at Fort Drum. Mr. Obama may think the primary
campaign is over, but Mrs. Clinton's die-hard supporters may trump a
last-minute surprise.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

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