by Todd Beeton, Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 03:31:19 PM EDT
You know things are bad when the guy heading up the Republicans' efforts to win senate seats is crossing his fingers that he can hold on to 41 (way to shoot high, John!) and hanging his hopes on winning Georgia's senate seat.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., set a floor on the number of Senate seats the party must control: 41.
"The number that we get to is really, really important in the U.S. Senate," he said. "That's one of the reasons Saxby [Chambliss] absolutely must hold his seat." [...]
By holding at least 41 Senate seats, the GOP would prevent the Democrats from having the 60 votes required to end filibusters, which prevent votes on bills.
Some might interpret this as good ole fashioned expectations lowering but to me it's actually an acknowledgement of reality. Remember in 2006, most predictions for Democratic gains were in the 2-3 seat range, with 6 as the absolute max? Well, we hit our max. This year, both the playing field and, if it's possible, the political environment, are even worse for Republicans and they know that as of today the minimum the Republicans will lose in November is about 5 seats (most likely VA, NH, NM, AK and CO.) To achieve their lofty goal of holding onto 41 seats, Republicans would have to lose only 3 of the 4 next most vulnerable seats: Dole in NC, Wicker in MS, Smith in OR and Coleman in MN. And that doesn't even take into account what is arguably the next tier of senate opportunities for Democrats: Collins in ME, McConnell in KY and Cornyn in TX. As you can see, Saxby Chambliss doesn't even make the top 12, so the fact that John Ensign sees the Georgia race as his firewall indicates to me that holding onto 41 might actually represent their best case scenario.