July 24th, 2008
08:05 AM ET
10 years ago

Dem leaders warn of 'irrational exuberance'

Van Hollen and Schumer are guardedly optimistic.

Van Hollen and Schumer are guardedly optimistic.

(CNN) - Amid repeated signs congressional Democrats are headed for a successful round of elections next November, the party's two campaign heads did their best Wednesday to lower expectations.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Schumer's counterpart at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, both said during a Capitol Hill press conference they remain guardedly optimistic about the party's chances, but noted many of the races are being contested in traditionally unfavorable territories for Democrats.

"Its important for people to understand, there's a lot of sense out there this is going to be another big wave election, but we are going into really tough territory here, so we do need beware of irrational exuberance when it comes to some of the numbers I've heard on the house races," Van Hollen said.

Schumer added this cycle's Senate races constitute the "reddest map in a very long time."

But it's difficult for both men not to be optimistic about the party's prospects: President Bush's poll numbers remain mired around 30 percent, the Republican faithful appear to be suffering form a lack of enthusiasm, and the Democratic committees hold a huge cash advantage over their GOP counterparts.

Add to that Barack Obama's candidacy, which is significantly helping Democrats down the ballot in red states, Schumer said

"Obama's a big help to us…this is far and away the worst map in terms of red or blue, but Obama runs very well in these states," he said. "So it’s a real advantage having Obama on the ticket, because he polls better than a traditional Democrat does than in very red states."

Neither Schumer nor Van Hollen would make specific predictions on how many seats they hope to pick up, though Senate Democrats are hoping the most favorable outcome could put them over the filibuster-proof number of 60 while DCCC has said they are aggressively targeting 50 Republican seats.

Senate Democrats will need a powerful wave to reach the 60 number - in addition to defending all 12 of their party's senators who face re-election, Democrats will have to pick up nine additional seats. But minutes after talking up the difficulty his party faces in terms of geography, Schumer seemed to suggest reaching that filibuster-proof number was possible.

"There are a handful of races we think we are ahead significantly…and there are six where we thing we are close'" he said. "Then there are four or five others, if the winds at are back, where we could also win."

Schumer went on to identify races in Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico and Alaska as those were Democrats are ahead; the races in Oregon, Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Maine and North Carolina where the party's candidates are in striking distance; and Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Georgia where Democrats at least have a chance.

Filed under: Congress • Senate
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Janey/Michigan

    Has CNN heard that Fox news is the favorite of overseas patriotic Americans? This article and others like it is the reason–not fair and balanced. Americans are not as dumb as you seem to think.

    July 24, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. Susan

    The Dems really need to pay attention to all the races to ensure Republican defeat. Do not take things for granted, have a clear plan of attack on the Repbulicans, and continue to hammer home on how they have failed the American people!

    July 24, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Texas trail puppy!

    One of the biggest flaws of Dems is that of becoming complacent and taking things for granted meanwhile the Repubs are better at staying focused. This year's election is very important for us to mess things up we need to keep our eyes on the prize and continue volunteering and donating in order to take the White House back!!!

    July 24, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Debby

    Yeah all this hype about Obama by the media and if he loses the Dems. will look like bozo's.

    July 24, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Sue

    Democrats are drunk on expectations and can't think straight.

    July 24, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. nextgen08

    I think that it is true that in the Democrats excitement, they may forget that when voters think their guy has it in the bag, they feel no great need to go to the polls on a rainy day, or if it's inconvenient. That is a very real possibility, especially with the way the Republican Party has lowered voter turnout in heavily Democratic districts by using shady, and arguably illegal techniques, such as a recorded message telling voters the voting day has changed. Voter education is also going to be a big factor as many voters just don't have the facts. I invite anyone who is interested to visit nextgen-politics.com. They have some good articles comparing the two candidates. Every vote is going to matter this season, more so then in a long time. While not a Democrat, the suppresion of anyones vote greatly concerns me as a citizen of a free country. Is winning an election worth trashing what it means to be an American? The G.O.P. needs to take a deep and thoughtful look and the party Karl Rove has created and decide if that is the party they really want to be.

    July 24, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. 57 States

    what would people be thinking to vote for a democrat........9% approval rating......Give me a break

    July 24, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    If the voters in those 15 states have any commons sense–they will delve into the false bravado of the current congress when it came to majority–and then evaluate the promises not met–and the damage done.

    They will also look closely beyond Mr. Obama's star power appeal at the meat and potatoes of what he's actually accomplished, how he as actually served, and evaluate his policy agenda (original and revised) over the past 2.5 years.

    I hope in the end there are more independants than Democrats and Republicans–who will keep us on the right track by electing McCain.

    July 24, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. A nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I agree and anyone who supports this fake messiah is irrational and should be committed

    Le Chat

    July 24, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Voter


    July 24, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Ian

    It's supposed to be public service, not a career. Vote them all out!

    July 24, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Upon Further Review,Texas

    Sell out Dems must be swept out as well.

    July 24, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. The Winning Coach

    Finish the enemy.

    July 24, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. Obama Unity and Convention

    We need more than a luke-warm response from Chuck and Van Hollen. We need vigorous support of all Dems, but in particular, Obama. The more he is supported, the longer the shirtails come election day. Bush/McCain/Chaney/Rumsfeld/Rice – they are ALL a disaster and need to be soundly repudiated. Unfortunately, many entrenched Dems were Hillary supporters and part of the beltway insider, play-it-safe, too many personal debts and obligations, aiming low for incumbancy problem. Sieze the Obama movement and start acting more progressively to create substance and buzz. Let's sweep these elections and show we can be the party of substance. Come the Convention, we need a platform and inspiration!!!

    July 24, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. Texas Trail Dog!


    July 24, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think that this is the case where Schumer and Van Hollen are trying to keep expectations low for huge gains. That is smart since there could be "an October suprise" that could leave things completely different. If the Democrats pick up more than 10 seats of the 30+ that are up for re-election or open, that would cement a fillibuster-proof hold on the Senate leaving Lieberman out of his chairmenship most likely. I doub that the Democrats will pick any more than 5 to 7 seats in the Senate. They will still need help from Lieberman and some Republicans.

    July 24, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. rachel

    Too late, dems have gotten to cocky already, with Pelosi calling bush a total faliure when congress ratings are just as low, and they put the cockiest guy onhe dem ticket in nov. Dems always get to cocky and thats why they lose most presidental elections.

    July 24, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. McCain Lies!

    Only the absolutely ignorant and brain washed repuglicans will still vote for their party. The rest of us are enlightened and will be voting for who is best for the country and that would unequivocably be Barack.

    Darlene 'Hussein' Rodgers

    July 24, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Laura

    Please tell me that this sentence has a typo and that Schumer didn't actually say this: "So it’s a real advantage having Obama on the ticket, because he polls better than a traditional Democrat does THAN in very red states." Yikes. Actually, the paragraph before it is pretty dicey too.

    July 24, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. katiec

    Winning the presidential election is going to take alot of
    If the contest was run on policies, issues and principals
    we the voters would find it rewarding.
    Instead, the media, AP have turned the race into a circus,
    reporting anything to sensationalize, flaunting their
    bias and irresponsibility.
    The world is laughing at us, shaking their heads on
    sensationlizing headlines, and lack of integrity by
    media and voters who actually believe their

    July 24, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  21. NewYorker Magazine Rocks

    This is the same group that ran Congress for the past 8 years.

    You really want change, get rid of the DNC.

    Annoy the Media, say NO to Obama.

    July 24, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  22. Chris from NY

    As a Democrat I share their concern too but we still have to be optimistic. According to your faith, let it be done unto you.

    July 24, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Calling on Independents, TX

    Hello Independents:
    I am calling each and everyone of you to do the right thing in this election, because I am also an Independent. I can understand why a republican would vote for McCain. I am having a very tough time understanding someone who is a true Independent will have any questions after having seen and heard both candidates. The difference is so obvious that you don't need to spend more than 5 minutes listening to McCain that he should not get your vote. I would have still votted for Obama even if the the candidates had switched their Parties. Come on lets do it!
    OBAMA 08 to bring this country back on track!

    July 24, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. John

    I'll be honest. The Democrat Congress has not done everything I would have liked for it to have done. However, with a hostile and uncooperative President, and a hostile and uncooperative Republican minority in the House and Senate, and no two-thirds majority anywhere, you have to admit that they haven't had a lot of leeway to get anything accomplished. There's not a whole lot the Democrats /can/ do in the situation that they're in. And you can't say that they should just be bipartisan and work together with the Republicans, because even with bipartisanship you've got the moron Senator from Oklahoma, Coburn, holding up any and every bill that he can just to be a jerk. You've also got the fact that the neoconservative definition of "compromise" is "give us everything we want and we will badmouth you for being uncooperative anyway". Hell with that.

    So yeah, the Democrats haven't done as much as I would have liked, but when we have Obama as president and we have clear majorities (with Obama all we'd need is a simple majority) in the House and the Senate, you will see a lot getting accomplished. Maybe not as much vindictive punitive actions against the Bush Administration as I'd like, but that will be because we're going to have a lot of much bigger problems to solve then bringing an idiot and his cronies to justice.

    July 24, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Michael

    Does anyone really care what that oleaginous mediocrity Charles Schumer thinks about anything?

    July 24, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
1 2 3