With almost half of the Republican minority’s 49 Senate seats up for re-election in 2008 (compared to the dozen Senate races the Democrats are facing), things are looking bad for Republicans. But unfortunately, the sheer number of seats the Republicans stand to lose isn’t all that looks bad.
At least 10 and usually 11 of these 12 Democratic seats are rated “safe” by the leading prognosticators. Seven of the 10 “safe” Democrats have served four or more terms. These include party fixtures such as Sens. Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, John Kerry and Jay Rockefeller. Only one Democratic seat, that of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, is realistically considered in play (some also say the same of South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson’s seat). Not even counting fundraising advantages, favorable Democratic voter-identification numbers or turnout, it is clear that the Senate terrain for 2008 slopes steeply toward the Democratic Party. Here are the most hotly contested races in descending order of Republican vulnerability — eight in total worth watching. Ten months out, a Democratic gain of three to six seats seems likely. A Democratic gain of as many as eight seats is not out of the question, which would bring today’s Democratic caucus of 51 senators to the edge of a filibuster-proof majority.
Can you imagine what this country would be like with a near-filibuster proof Democrat majority in the Senate and a Democrat President?
One shudders to think.
There’s a lot of spin out there about why Republicans are in such dire straits. Everything from the war in Iraq to President Bush’s low approval ratings gets blamed, but ultimately I think Congressional Republicans, Senate Republicans in particular, have no one to blame but themselves.
Republicans held a majority in Congress from the “Republican Revolution” of 1994 through 2006. They started off that era in the mid-to-late 1990’s talking about limited, ethical and transparent government. They ended it in 2006 in a haze of scandal and broken promises. From Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Jack Abrmoff and Mark Foley to departures from core conservative principles on issues like federalism, spending and illegal immigration the Republicans did themselves in.
How do they fix things? Obviously, they need to get back to the principles that got them elected in 1994. Whether or not they can do that in time for the 2008 elections remains to be seen. Given what we saw in 2007, it’s doubtful.