The Dems' Moderately Disappointing Congressional Results

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 12:20 PM EST

Congressional Democrats had high hopes going into yesterday's election. Everyone knows they were shooting for a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes in the Senate, but they we were also looking to add anywhere from 15 to 30 seats to their House majority.

In that lower body, Democrats lost four incumbents (Tim Mahoney in FL-16, Nancy Boyda in KS-02, Don Cazayoux in LA-06, and Nick Lampson in TX-22). They picked up 21 seats, according to Swing State Project. Ten races are still outstanding. So we're looking at a net gain for the Dems of 16 to 26, with the likely number around 20.

They almost certainly won't get to 60 in the Senate. They started the night with 51. If they had scored pickups in the closely contested races in New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, Kentucky, and Alaska, they would have had 62.

Wins: New Mexico (Senator-elect Udall), Colorado (also Senator-elect Udall), North Carolina (Hagan), Virginia (Warner), and New Hampshire (Shaheen). That boosts them to 56.

Losses: Mississippi (Wicker) and Kentucky (McConnell).

Unclear: Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, and Alaska.

Georgia will go to the Republicans if the current leader, incumbent Saxby Chambliss, gets over 50 percent. If he doesn't, the race will go to a runoff. Chambliss currently has 49.9 percent.

Here's the AP on Minnesota: "With the unofficial vote tally complete, Coleman led Franken by 571 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. Coleman had 1,210,942 votes, or 42.03 percent, to Franken's 1,210,371 votes, or 42.01 percent." A recount is expected.

Here's the Register-Guard on Oregon: "[Republican] Smith led [Democrat] Merkley by 4,478 votes, 474,398 to 469,920, based on partial returns released by the state Elections Division at 5:53 a.m. Wednesday." Full results are not yet in. The delay in counting may be due to Oregon's unique vote-by-mail system. Note that Obama is winning Oregon by double digits and that Merkley had a last-minute polling lead of about five. If Smith retains his seat, it will be a real head-scratcher.

And Alaska continues to befuddle. Stevens is the Senate's longest serving Republican and he brings home the pork. But after his felony conviction a week ago, people on both sides of the aisle assumed his political career was over. His opponent, Mark Begich went up 4 or 5 in the polls. Many in the Republican Party, including John McCain, called on Stevens to resign. And yet, Stevens has a small lead as vote counting continues. The AP: "Stevens' lead was fewer than 4,000 votes with more than 40,000 absentee ballots to be counted within 10 days."

If the Dems lose all four of these outstanding races (a real possibility), they will be stuck on 56. If they win all four (a very slim possibility), they will get 60. A reasonable guess? They get one or two, and head into the next term with 57 or 58 senators.

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