Democrats currently hold a 51 – 49 majority in the U.S. Senate, with the 51st vote being that very independent (read turning Republican) Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Senate rules, however, frequently require 60 votes to prevail on controversial issues, from health care to minimum wage to the Iraq war. This high threshold has frustrated Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
A still higher threshold is required for the Senate to give its advice and consent to treaties — just say, for example, a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty or a treaty to reduce significantly the number of nuclear weapons. Both are goals ardently desired for action in the next Administration by those who focus on nuclear weapons .
With the sour atmosphere facing the country, Republicans knew that in this election they faced losses.
Now those losses may get even greater than expected.
Political guru Stuart Rothenberg, writing in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call [subscription required], suddenly finds a 60-vote Democratic majority a real possibility.
He wrote on October 6: “The outlook in Senate races continues to deteriorate for Republicans, with Democratic gains at least in the high single digits increasingly likely.”
Rothenberg now finds a 60-vote Democratic majority turning from distant mirage to Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) reality.
Rothenberg continues: “Virginia and New Mexico are already gone, and Colorado, Alaska, New Hampshire and Oregon aren’t far behind. Add in North Carolina, and Democrats are plus-seven (and at 58 seats) without Minnesota or Mississippi, which are up for grabs. “
And he added to this count the unexpected possibilities of Democrats grabbing upsets in both Kentucky and Georgia.
For more on current poling, check out Council for a Livable World’s constantly updated list of polls:
Full polling data is here.