Democratic leaders can smell blood in the water. With support for President Bush continuing to dwindle, some Democrats are beginning to fantasize about a liberal takeover of Washington this fall.
An article in today's New York Times quotes several Democratic officials who expressed their hopes that the party can win a 60-seat majority in the Senate in this November's elections. Such a majority would prevent Republican filibusters that have thwarted Democratic-backed legislation -- that is, of course, assuming Democrats can stay unified in the face of a filibuster threat, no certain thing. Currently, Democrats hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate.
While the Times' piece acknowledges that the Democrats’ chances of picking up nine seats is “unlikely," it also cites Senate contests in traditionally Republican states such as Alaska, Virginia, Oklahoma and Mississippi that could go in favor of Democratic candidates. In the article, reporter David M. Herszenhorn writes, "Numbers help tell the story. Republicans have 23 seats to defend, including five left vacant by retiring incumbents, while the Democrats have just 12, with a competitive race expected only in Louisiana." Democrats also seem destined to hold onto their majority in the House.
An article addressing the same topic that appeared in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal references the Democrats' current fundraising advantage as a main reason for the party to be optimistic. At the end of January, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $35.5 million cash on hand, while the National Republican Congressional Committee had just $6.4 million. The Times' article points out a similar discrepancy in Senate funding, with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee holding onto $30 million, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee has just $13 million in reserves. (The Republican National Committee does have a substantially bigger wallet than its Democratic counterpart, however -- the RNC has $25 million on hand compared with the DNC's $3.7 million.)