It seems like yesterday that we were hoping, at best, for a split decision in the Senate. We always assumed Illinois and Georgia would swap hands. Then we had our fingers crossed for Alaska, and hoped to lose only one of the southern seats.
First Graham quit Florida. Then Edwards gave us heartburn in North Carolina. South Carolina would be tough to keep under any circumstances, even if Hollings wasn't retiring. And Breaux's retirement came at the most inopportune time.
Yeah, holding our ground seemed to be the best-case scenario.
But as the senate picture shakes out, holding even is now starting to look -- well, maybe not the "worst-case" scenario, but a middling prospect. The best-case suddenly looks very, very bright. We're talking 52-48, in our favor, bright.
Georgia and Illinois are still looking to swap. But Alaska and Oklahoma are looking very good. Recent polling shows our guys with narrow but real leads. Polling in NC and SC also show our candidates holding their ground, meaning we may very well retain those seats. In Florida, everything is looking like a dead heat, which is very Florida-esque. And in Louisiana no one doubts the power of Breaux, and he has made retaining the seat a priority of his. I wouldn't bet against the guy.
Then, suddenly, Colorado became a lean-Dem seat with the retirement of Campbell and the inability of the GOP to field a top-tier candidate. And as we've seen in Pennsylvania the past few days, the bottom is falling out of Specter's reelect effort.
So at this rate, the pretty good-case scenario has us earning pickups in Illinois, Colorado, Alaska and Oklahoma, while losing Georgia and one of the other southern seats (NC, SC, or FL). That would give us 51. The best case would give us PA while losing only GA. 53-47.
Okay, so 53-47 is unlikely. But so was the GOP's dramatic 2002 pickups. Fact is, much of our fortunes in the Senate and House will depend on that intangible "national mood". That mood turned against Democrats as the GOP went all-Osama, all the time, and while most of our losses were narrow, they were victories nonetheless. I think we all sense that national mood turning against Republicans, but there's no way to predict how things will shake out.
Much will depend on the party and its ability to effectively communicate its message to the people. And recent history gives us pause for optimism. Another note of caution -- the DSCC is precariously short on funds while its Republican counterpart is flush with cash. And while Obama's victory in Illinois was a great moment for progressives, it also means the DSCC will be forced to fund a race that might've gone to a self-funder. Meanwhile, our Senate hopes rest on AK, CO, FL, LA, NC, OK, SC, and SD -- all of them red states. Five of them are solid red states.
But we have cause for hope. Repudiation of the Republican ticket starts at the top, but extends all the way down the ticket. And as I've said before, I don't want us to simply win in 2004, I want the electorate to clearly and unambigiously discredit everything Bush and his party stands for. We need to shoot for the stars -- the White House, Senate and House are all within reach.