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July 19, 2010

A Republican Congress?

Wall Street Journal floats the idea that Republicans may take back more than the House in November.

The emergence of competitive Republican candidates in Wisconsin, Washington and California—Democratic-leaning states where polls now show tight races—bring the number of seats that Republicans could seize from the Democrats to 11.

Democrats now control the Senate 59-41—after the death of Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was replaced by Republican Sen. Scott Brown—including two independents who usually vote with them. That means Republicans need 10 seats to take a 51-49 advantage.

Republicans would have to win virtually every competitive race to retake the Senate, without losing any seats of their own—clearly an uphill climb. The trouble for Democrats is that many trends are against them. Surveys show that Republicans are more motivated than Democrats to go to the polls, and that voters are looking for new leadership in Congress.

"I think there is definitely a chance" of losing the Senate, said Democratic strategist Gary Nordlinger, a Washington-based media consultant. "I wouldn't call it a probability, but there is certainly a chance."

"Republicans still have to [win] all the competitive races in order to get to a majority, but at least there are enough seats on the table to pull it off," said Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Now, don't get your hopes up too much. Like it says, this is an uphill battle. I still expect Democrats to start with the usual tricks in September and October -- the feminist dog whistle. The claims that Republicans are going to steal Social Security from seniors. (Unusually, the claims of racism will be blunted from overuse during the past year; the boy-who-cried-racism feature of this presidency may doom typical Democratic race cries for a few years.)

To this point the Democrats have been raising money and taking attacks of opportunity when our candidates stumble. That's not a campaign, that's a holding pattern. Incumbents like Barbara Boxer, Dirty Harry, and Colorado Senator Michael Bennett have millions tucked away while their Republican opponents are campaigning on a shoestring margin.

Still, check out Real Clear Politics Battle for the Senate map. It's possible.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:01 AM

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