Is getting a filibuster-proof Senate a realistic goal for Democrats?


Cross-posted at Election Inspection

 Before looking at whether or not the Democrats can expect to get the magic sixty, lets review the seats which have the potential to flip, starting from the ones most likely to flip to the ones least likely to flip (anything not listed here means that we consider the seats to be completely safe). (Note, these are all Election Inspection's ratings) 

Solid Democratic (Pick-up)

  • Virginia (Warner)
  • New Mexico (Domenici)
Leans Democratic
  • Sununu (New Hampshire)
  • Landrieu (Lousiana)
  • Colorado (Allard)
  • Stevens (Alaska)

Leans Republican

  • Smith (Oregon)
  • Coleman (Minnesota)
  • Collins (Maine)
  • Wicker (Mississippi-B)
  • McConnell (Kentucky)

Likely Republican (Open Seat retention)

  • Idaho (Craig)

Possible Darkhorse Races (Republican Incumbent)

  • Dole (North Carolina)
  • Cornyn (Texas)
  • Inhofe (Oklahoma)
  • Roberts (Kansas)

First of all, I think we can safely assume that Democrats will win in New Mexico and Virginia, so we can start off with a net gain of two seats for the Democrats. So, to start off with in the second session, the Democrats are basically guaranteed to start from a vantage point of 50 seats. With the way the Leans Democratic races have been playing out (including the newly added AK-Sen), I'm pretty confident that the Democrats will win at least three and probably all four (Pollster shows Democrats leading by at least 5 points in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Alaska) and while it seems like it's close in Louisiana, with the exception of Zogby, Landrieu has shown to have a consistent lead of no less than 3 points (with the most recent Rasmussen poll giving Landrieu a 5 point edge). So, we'll give the Democrats three more seats and put them up to 53 seats (by the way, this doesn't include Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman who caucus with the Democrats). Alright, so the score now should be at Democrats 53 guaranteed seats and Republicans with 34 guaranteed seats. Now then, let's assume that Republicans win all of the seats which I consider to be either Likely or a potential Dark-horse (which, realistically, is more likely to happen than not), Republicans will have 38 seats (from now on, I'm going to consider Sanders to be a Democrat, for the purposes of voting, which gives the Democrats 54 seats and I'm going to consider Lieberman a wild-card as far as voting in concerned since, even though Lieberman has taken a more Conservative position on several issues, he is still considered to be more likely to support Democratic domestic agendas than Republican ones). So we have a score of 54-39-1, which means that for Democrats to win a filibuster-proof Senate which doesn't rely on Lieberman, they'll have to win 6 additional seats on top of the 5 which I'm projecting for them to win already, now how realistic a shot to Democrats have at this? 

I believe that more likely than not, Democrats will win in Louisiana, so we'll give the Democrats that extra seat which puts the score at 55-39-1 (5 undecided). I also think that Republicans should win in Kentucky. so the score now stands at 55-40-1 (4 undecided), which also basically eliminates any reasonable possibility of Democrats getting to the magic 60 number without Lieberman (which, might not be as bad as people think). So, that means that whether or not the Democrats can get to a filibuster proof senate rests on Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, and Mississippi-B. Mississippi-B and Oregon look to be within striking distance but Maine and Minnesota, seem to be moving away from us, so right now, I'd say that, at most, Democrats will probably end up with 57 seats (including Sanders) Republicans with 42 seats, and Joe Lieberman as a wild-card in the Senate.

Doesn't look like we're going to get our filibuster-proof majority this time around, but we'll do well enough that it's possible we can set 2010 up to get there.