US: Democrats looking at a filibuster proof Senate majority

Politico is reporting that the Democrats are on track to potentially reach a super-majority of sixty seats in the U.S. Senate. Sixty is a very important number in the Senate because it neuters any attempt by the opposing party to block legislation by eliminating the opportunity to filibuster.

If Barack Obama is elected President, such a super-majority in both houses of Congress would give him the type of free reign that allowed Franklin Roosevelt to pass the New Deal during the Great Depression. The United States could be on the verge of a major change in electoral politics and political direction.

The House of Representatives is likely to have a huge Democratic majority come January. The question is the Senate. A few months ago, sixty was seen as an impossible stretch for Democrats. Now, it is ever more likely.

Sixty is the magic number to stop filibusters by the opposition party.

The term first came into use in the United States Senate, where Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless a supermajority of three-fifths of the Senate (60 Senators, if all 100 seats are filled) brings debate to a close by invoking cloture.

The blogsite Five Thirty Eight is reporting that Democrats are now leading in a number of tight races where the Republicans had previously led.

The Democrats have gained ground in several races this week, including North Carolina, where for the first time we have Kay Hagan listed as a favorite to unseat Elizabeth Dole, New Hampshire, where Jeanne Shaheen appears to have bounced back after some tight polling in mid-September, and Mississippi, where Rasmussen shows the race closing to two points. In addition, polling in Georgia and Texas indicates that those races may be viable pickup opportunities in a wave election, and even Nebraska has tightened a bit, with that race retaining a fairly high percentage of undecideds.
Five Thirty Eight

With seats like Elizabeth Dole’s (R-NC) and Norm Coleman’s (R-MN) now on the line, what is going to stop the Democrats from sweeping to New Deal-style power in November?

The possibility that Democrats will build a muscular, 60-seat Senate majority is looking increasing plausible, with new polls showing a powerful surge for the party’s candidates in Minnesota, Kentucky and other states.

A poll out Friday shows Sen. Norm Coleman could now easily lose his Minnesota seat to comedian-turned-candidate Al Franken. A Colorado race that initially looked like a nail-biter has now broken decisively for the Democrats. A top official in the McCain camp told us Sen. Elizabeth Dole is virtually certain to lose in conservative North Carolina.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has seen his race tighten dangerously close over the past week — and Democrats are considering moving more money into the state very soon. And there is even talk that Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is beatable in conservative Georgia after backing the economic bailout package opposed by many voters.

“Before the economic crisis, we had a number of races moving our way,” said Matthew Miller, communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “But now we’re seeing Republican numbers plummet.” GOP officials largely agree.

Senate races don’t grab national attention like the White House battle does. But if these trends hold, the Senate outcome could be almost as important to Washington governance as the presidential winner will be. It takes 60 votes to pass anything through the slow-moving Senate. So the closer the Democrats get to the number, the more power they will have next year to put their stamp on the country.

Democrats say their candidates are benefiting from the wipeout on Wall Street with a single message in every region of the country: “These are the Bush policies coming home to roost.” Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Politico: “Americans know that in economically difficult times, we need a change from George Bush’s policies. And incumbents who have voted for six years with Bush, up and down the line, are having a difficult time trying to convince the electorate that they’ve changed their spots.”

The trends reflect the growing fear of among top Republicans that their prospects could crater on Nov. 4, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) running weakly at the top of the ticket, President Bush as unpopular as ever and the economic crisis serving as a last-minute propellant for the change message of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

With Republicans fearing the loss of 17 to 21 House seats, January 2009 could bring Democrats a dominance over Washington that neither party has experienced since the Reagan years.

GOP dread: Dems could hit 60 Senate seats – Politico
Senate Polling Update, 10/4 – Five Thirty Eight
Filibuster – Wikipedia

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