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. bill for barack

    It will be a long, tough fight for the Democrats.
    The Republicans are masters of every low, dirty, mean and evil trick in the book.
    They will steal elections whenever they can.

    July 24, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Matt

    The democrats have been a ridiculous failure. They have actually managed to make the previous, Republican Congress look extremely competent.

    If this country wasn't so overwhelmed with Bush hatred and did what was right, Obama and the democrat Congress wouldn't stand a chance.

    July 24, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. William, from Cali!

    It's not a "good time" to be a Republican; but, the "do nothing, til you hear from me DemocRATS" will have there day, too. Its kinda like the "cycles", of the stock market. Stocks go "in and out of season"; so pick your stock , and hope, you get a nice return on your "investment"..........Warning!......... there are "no guarantees you will make a profit; you could incur losses"................

    July 24, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Mike

    We are exuberant and exited at the dream of ending the Corpocracy that has ruled America posing as the Republican Party. We want our Democracy back and we see light at the end of the long dark tunnel of war and economic decline. Please pardon our exuberance.

    July 24, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. Lord help us.

    I would not vote for Obama if he was the only candidate running. The same goes for McCain. I did however change my party from Rep. to Independent. I just wait and see the conventions. No one has my vote as of today.

    July 24, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Willow, from Iowa

    I think it would be a wonderful thing for this country if we had a Democratic President and also a Majority in the House and Senate. We could actually get some things done that have been needing to be done for a long time.

    July 24, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Jewel Hester

    Why can’t ordinary Americans see what the Republican Party has done to this country in the last eight years? I think going after John McCain is small minded. We should go after the Republican Party as a whole and show the American people what they represent and what they have done in our name. We should have a national strategy in place now defining the differences between both parties and genially reaching out to there base. This next election is not about white or black or even blue state or red but should be about hope and prosperity for our children and the average American family. Just pointing fingers at each other is getting tired and old. We all as Americans share almost the same fate in the prosperity of our country that we love so dearly. This is the greatest country on the face of this earth and what we do now as a unified nation will be a testament to future generations of Americans not yet born. Let’s make the praise “We the People” mean something again.

    Jewel Hester

    July 24, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    New Yorker Magazine Rocks has a head full of, well, rocks. Prior to 2006 the Repuglicans held Congress, and look where that has brought us.

    John, you are right on the mark!!

    July 24, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Helen, NY

    Sen. Schumer, you are not getting my vote this time. If George Bush rating is at 30%, Congresssenate rating is in single digit. Last two years have been a nightmare. You have done nothing in the senate to help American people. Gas prices are high, housing market is in doldrums. This is what democrats can achieve. They have just today raised minimum wage. Imagine how many small business owners cannot afford. if you are a good worked, employer will pay whatever he wants to pay. Democrats cannot disctate me to run my business. Get a life.

    July 24, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. Jamie, IN

    We are cautiously optimistic but...GO BARACK, BEAT THE GOP,

    Obama 08

    July 24, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Charlotte

    We tend to elect the opposite party to the Senate and Congress then we do our President. We hope to balance the power that way. We sure didn't have a balance of power this time around. This is the worst Congress and President in history. With Senators like Obama it is no wonder we had a do nothing congress. They all seem to be running for re-election from the day they win. You would think they would do a better job. Most of them don't show up half the time and abstain the other half. What a waste of money. They will help you with government road blocks to some extent. The threat of calling your Senator or Congressperson will get attention and help you resolve some problems. You get this from your Congressman/woman more then your Senator. We hope they do their jobs and suffer when they don't. I will write Hillary on my ballot in November, as will many people I know..

    July 24, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Bob Indianapolis, IN


    July 24, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Katherine, OH


    I couldn't agree with you more. The Republicans don't even believe what they're saying. They ran up pork spending in Congress–so what's with this tax and spend Democrats mantra?

    I think quite frankly, the Dems and the GOP both have sound ideas, but we don't get to hear them because they're wrapped up in partisan politics. Americans deserve better, and we shouldn't tolerate finger pointing any longer.

    July 24, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    The coming wave of change will sweep many Democrats into office, but they shouldn't try to "coast" in. It's still going to take a lot of hard work to ensure they stay on top of the wave......anybody that gets lazy may find themselves left behind as the wave breaks toward shore.

    July 24, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |

    Say Dog you are such a LIAR!!! we all know that you are a REPUBLICAN ......By the Way Mc Cain Invited you to his Barbeque Saturday ........He need you to COLLECT the BONES!!!! Be sure to leave the WHITE sheet in the DOG HOUSE.....RUFF!!!!

    July 24, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. TJ Johnson

    One has to be 'irrational' to start with to be a democrat.

    July 24, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. ali

    without a united party in power,things will be much more difficult for president barack,but,at least a lot of repubs like obama better than mccain.same cant be said of congress.

    July 24, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. v.a.

    oh, janey. how silly of you to believe FOX's twisted definition of patriotism.

    July 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. Don Colony14Author, Mt Prospect, IL

    Charles ("which way is the camera?") Schumer is right for a change – a lot can happen between now and election day. For example, voters can learn that Obama is clueless and naive and his plans will pretty much make things worse.

    July 24, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Eric Harlan

    If president Bush is "mired" by a 30% approval rating, what adjective did the author fail to use to describe the democrat-led congress' 8% approval rating??! Bias much?

    July 24, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |

    Janey/Michigan I beg to differ with your statement about Americans not as dumb as the media thinks. Please, have you seen the last set of poll numbers. For McCain and Obama to be running neck and neck obviously there are a few Americans who have slipped through the cracks and hit their heads.

    July 24, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. C from Texas

    Thought the DNC was broke and now they say they have a huge cash advantage over the GOP, get real.

    The DNC is a dying party, they get the young vote when they are young but once they get older and start working they realize that the GOP is better. All the DNC wants to do is raise taxes and have people depend on them for everything, why do you think they have all the welfare votes?

    July 24, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. John

    yeah you guys better pick up the pace too, the new dems might change you guys for something younger too, you have been sitting on your hands we are almost a mad at you guys as we are at Bush and McSame, we elected you last time to 1. get our troops out now. 2. Impeach Bush. So far you all are lucky Obama is the man cause thats really the only thing saving your butts right now. Signed young democrat

    July 24, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. Tom Z

    We need the "Nanny state"! Raise taxes so the government will give us everything. Free health care, free food, free housing, free cars, free energy, free cell phones and Ipods. Let the rich pay for it all.

    July 24, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Jeff

    These are the very people that worship Obama and would like the rest of us to believe that Obama is the "savior of the world." I have been a Democrat for 30 years and for the first time in my life am ashamed of my party. This Democratically controlled congress is the most useless in modern history. And the fact that Democrats chose Obama to be their nominee should show that our party has been taken over by folks with no common sense. I will watch with interest what transpires over the next few years. Though I will not be voting for President this November I believe that Obama will win. I hope that he proves me wrong and is a shining example of what a Democratic President should be. I'm not counting on it though. I believe that Obama will be the democratic version of G.W. Bush, all arrogance and no substance.

    July 24, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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