December 23, 2003

60-40 FILES:

GOP SENATE HOPES (Dick Morris, December 23, 2003, NY Post)

LOST among the focus on the Democratic presidential race is the likelihood of a huge Republican gain in the U.S. Senate in the 2004 elections. Even without a landslide victory for Bush (quite possible if Howard Dean wins the Democratic nod), the way races are shaping up, the Republicans have a lot to gloat about. [...]

The most likely result would be a Republican gain of three or four, knocking the Democrats down to only 44 or 45 seats, barely enough to sustain a filibuster. If Bush wipes out Dean in a landslide, the Democrats could fall even lower, although it seems unlikely that they would drop below the magic number of 40 needed to oppose closure on Democratic filibusters.

Mr. Morris, for once, is over cautious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2003 8:22 PM

Bowles lost "narrowly" to Dole in 2002? Mel Martinez is a "former Gov." of Florida? Forget the analysis; Morris isn't even strong on the facts.

Posted by: AC at December 24, 2003 8:15 AM

The other thing to consider is the what I would call the "weak version of the Jeffords theory". As 60 becomes the real benchmark for "majority ruling" (thanks to Schumer et al), RINO votes really start to count. What makes one so sure that what may be a Rep "Ay" today turns into a demur or a "Nay" when (a) it actually counts or (b) when ego is at stake. I always worry about" Chafee, Specter, Collins, Snowe, and often McCain. What are we going to have to start a 65:35 files?

Posted by: MG at December 24, 2003 8:30 AM

The election of 2004 is still nearly a year away. Haven't any of you realized that in this era of information technology and fast news cycles, a year in politics is like a lifetime?

It seems silly to start making ANY kind of predictions now about an election that's so far away. The capture of Saddam isn't going to be on the front of people's brains in November 2004. Neither is last spring's Iraq invasion. Neither is this month's refreshing economic news.

What will be on the minds of voters on Election Day 2004 is whatever is happening that week. That's how it works now. Anybody who sits around speculating based on today's information is something of a fool -- Morris included.

Posted by: DG at December 24, 2003 9:27 AM

Bunk. History rules and history suggests a blow out in the particular and the inevitability of a shift to one party or another in general.

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2003 10:19 AM

DG, I would agree with you that speculating about an election that is almost 10 months away is a silly thing; however, stating that the invasion of Iraq, the capture of Saddam and 2003 economic numbers won't factor in is also pretty silly.

Posted by: pchuck at December 24, 2003 10:33 AM

It should be much more difficult to sustain the notion that a super majority is necesary or acceptable in the face of a forty state sweep by Bush and a substantial gain by the Republicans in the Senate.

Also if the Republicans increase their majorities in Congress there will probably be a sharp increase in the number of retirements by Democrat members.

Many of these retirees will be the "Blue Dog" Democrats which, in combination with the loss of three to five Southern Democrat Senators in 2004, will move the remaining Democratic party even further to the left.

Posted by: Earl Sutherland at December 24, 2003 11:15 AM

"History rules ..."

(Stifling chuckle.) Gimme a break. History ruled back when society still moved at a snail's pace, like it did even 15 years ago. Culture, politics and society have changed mightily during this time. Everything's faster now. Much faster.

Hell, we live in an age when the president can have formidable approval ratings one week, and then be in the negative category 20 days later. Things move FAST, FAST, FAST. Maybe that's hard to grasp up there in the womb of New Hampshire or wherever you are, thought it shouldn't be, considering you did manage to stumble onto the Internet and should by now have a solid understanding of how things work in the information age.

It is December 2003. I'd stake my life -- seriously, my very breath and being -- that 90 percent of what you would predict today about a November 2004 election would turn out to be wildly offbase.

Posted by: DG at December 24, 2003 11:59 AM


So, while you've been on the roller-coaster of approval ratings and economic dips and quagmires and wondering from day to day how Bush would fare next November, nothing has truly changed at all. From the day he was elected he was going to be re-elected unless he alienated his base. He hasn't so he will be. So much for rapid info rollover.

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2003 12:26 PM


one caution - most dramatic turnovers in Congress occur when the presiding party is dumped on or thrown out (1948, 1966, 1974, 1980, 1994). When a majority party gains a lot, it is like 1934, when the 'other' party is utterly rejected. While that may happen, modest gains are more likely (3-5 Senate seats and maybe 10 House seats). Right now, 4 of the 5 southern seats look like GOP pickups, but IL is problematic (with a Ryan facing indictment). Probably 500,000 voters won't know the difference next Nov. 2. And even if Bush wins PA by 54-46, Specter is in trouble (he's been there too long). I'm hopeful for CA and AR and SD/ND, but we have to wait and see how forceful Bush is in taking the battle right to the incumbent Democratic senators.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 24, 2003 9:55 PM


You're confusing chop with undertow.

Although it's true that we cannot now predict what the big story will be in Nov. '04, it would be shocking indeed if Iraq and the economy didn't loom large, and anything large enough to bring down the economy between now and then would likely redound in Bush's favor.

Not everything moves faster... We just get more information and opinion about it.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at December 25, 2003 3:28 AM