Riding the "macaca" wave

Webb pulls ahead of Allen and other news on November.

Published August 28, 2006 2:56PM (EDT)

It's just one poll, it's within the margin of error, it's still a couple of months out, but ... Zogby says that Jim Webb has erased George Allen's double-digit advantage and taken a one-point lead in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia.

Well, Webb didn't do that. Allen did. John Zogby tells the Wall Street Journal that the turnaround in Allen's fortunes can be attributed to the "colossal political crackup" over Allen's "macaca" moment.

Overall, the Journal says, Zogby's polling shows that if the November elections were held today, Republicans would hold on to the Senate, albeit with a reduced 52-46-2 majority -- the "2" being Jim Jeffords and Joe Lieberman. Along with all the usual caveats, it's worth noting that the Journal's poll report doesn't include all of the states with Senate races this year. Among the strangely missing: Montana, where Democrat Jon Tester is in a neck-and-neck race with incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns.

Other for-what-they're-worth prognostications:

Bloomberg's Al Hunt says that "barring an unexpected and big event," Democrats will win the House and have a shot at the Senate in November. "We have to go back to 1974 to find such a favorable environment," Hunt quotes James Carville as saying. "If we can't win in this environment, we have to question the whole premise of the party."

Stuart Rothenberg says Democrats shouldn't have to ponder that "it's making us sick just to think about it" question. "Our latest race-by-race review of congressional districts around the country convinces us that a Democratic wave is building and that the party is poised to take control of the House of Representatives in the fall," Rothenberg writes. "The only question now is the size of the November wave." Rothenberg's current prediction: The Democrats pick up 15 to 20 seats in the House, an increase from the eight to 12 seats he previously thought the Democrats would net. "Unlike previous cycles, when the burden was on Democrats to create upsets, the onus is now on the GOP to save at least a handful of seats before Election Day," Rothenberg says.

Brookings' Thomas Mann is even more bullish on the Democrats' pickup opportunities in the House. He expects Democrats to gain 25 to 35 seats in the House and gives the party a 50-50 chance of taking the Senate, too.

And speaking of 50-50 -- or at least 49-49-2 -- the Cincinnati Post's John Hall imagines a scenario in which the Democrats pick up just enough Senate seats to hand the question of party control to ... Joe Lieberman. Hall advises Ned Lamont supporters Howard Dean, John Kerry and Hillary Rodham Clinton to "get ready to genuflect in 2007."

Correction: As a reader notes in the comments below, the "2" in the Journal's post-November Senate projection wouldn't be Lieberman and Jeffords, who is retiring, but Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, who is running as an independent to replace Jeffords.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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