Magazine article The American Prospect

A Redder Senate in '06?

Magazine article The American Prospect

A Redder Senate in '06?

Article excerpt

AFTER THE PUMMELING they took on November 2, Democrats consoled them selves by thinking that history will be on their side in 2006. After all, midterm elections normally spell congressional gains for the party out of power in the White House. Sure, that axiom didn't apply in 2002, or in 1998 ... but it's a rule, damn it, and Dems clung to it as the election-night horror show unfolded before their eyes.

On the Senate side, however, the makeup of the actual seats in play in two years gives Dems little cause for hope. Looking at the 17 Democratic and 15 Republican seats up in the '06 cycle, one is hard-pressed to find a plausible way for Dems to reach a net gain of six--enough to take back power. "I don't think they have a great chance to take back the majority" in two years, says Jennifer Duffy, managing editor and political analyst for The Cook Political Report. Indeed, just maintaining the status quo won't be a walk in the park.

Granted, the terrain will be friendlier to Dems than it was this year, when the party had to defend a slew of open seats in red states. In '06, Dems won't likely be on the defensive as much; they just won't have many opportunities to go on the offensive, either. Of the 17 Democratic incumbents up for re-election in two years, four face real Republican challenges: Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and, as Duffy likes to call them, "the Nelsons--Ben and Bill," of Nebraska and Florida, respectively.

Among the 15 GOP incumbents, it's tough to name a single particularly vulnerable candidate residing in a red state. …

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