November 5th, 2008
01:46 AM ET
9 years ago

Dems hope for 'Magic 60'

(CNN) - Updated - Even as Democrats increase their control of the Senate, their eyes are on four crucial Senate races in their increasingly uphill battle to reach a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats. At this point, the Democrats must win seats in Alaska - where Republican Ted Stevens is running for re-election after being convicted on seven federal corruption charges last month - Georgia, Minnesota and Oregon to get to that crucial number. Georgia requires the winner to get 51 percent of the vote or there will be a runoff.

At this point, the Democrats have increased their majority to at least 56 seats by picking up five seats in Tuesday's elections. In a hotly contested fight in North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan, a state senator, ousted Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Cabinet secretary in the Reagan administration. Rep. Mark Udall captured a seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado. In New Hampshire, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen defeated incumbent Sen. John Sununu. That was a rematch of the 2002 race, when Sununu defeated Shaheen.

In New Mexico, Rep. Tom Udall won the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, a Republican. The projected winner of Virginia's open Senate seat, Democratic former Gov. Mark Warner, will fill the seat of retiring Sen. John Warner, a Republican. The two Warners are not related.

According to CNN's projections, 12 Democrats have kept their seats. They are Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana - who faced a tough re-election bid - Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Delaware's Democratic governor will appoint a replacement for Biden, who was elected vice president.

Republicans have retained 14 seats, and Democratic hopes to reach the crucial 60 seats first faced a setback when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won re-election to a fifth term after a fierce challenge. His spokesman said he plans to seek another term as the Republican leader.

The other Republicans returning to the Senate are Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - John McCain's chief ally in the Senate - Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

Idaho's open Senate seat will remain Republican with the election of Lt. Gov. Jim Risch to replace retiring Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested last year in a police sting operation in an airport bathroom. Nebraska's open Senate seat will remain in Republican hands with the election of former Gov. Mike Johanns to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel.

While Barack Obama's Senate seat from Illinois wasn't up for re-election, under state law the governor, who's currently a Democrat, will appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy left by the president-elect.

Filed under: 2008 Election • Senate
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Somewhat Happy in Florida

    We are at 52 and I think we can get to 60. I have faith in this country and I know we will get alot done

    November 4, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. Arthur

    With a democratic controlled congress and prez you can kiss our constitution goodbye. Losing these checks and balances is not something to celebrate!

    November 4, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  3. Rin

    The world is coming to an end...

    November 4, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. NT

    With a democratic controlled congress and "prez" we can kiss our constitution goodbye? You mean like we did with a republican congress and "prez"? Please. This IS the balance.

    November 4, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. Isaac Grove

    There is a reason why we have checks and balances... Having an all-democratic(or main) SuperMajority is considerable dangerous. It can lead to a one party system, or the people can vote in a few people for a balanced government. I've given up on the government, Its useless. I hear Obama is like the Democrat's version of George "W", which doesnt surprise me, as all politicians are the same when it all boils down to what they stand for. Republicans are Democrats and Democrats or Republicans. Their main goal? To steal money, crash the economy, etc. I could care less. Lets just hope they don't try to be slick... and if they do, you can't blame the republicans for the mess if it does happen.

    I.Grove of Tampa, Fl

    November 4, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Hey Arthur just like we lost the same checks and balances in 04 right? Bet you weren't complaining back in 04. Go dems baby!

    November 4, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  7. Jerimiah Kent

    If each the House/Senate, President, and Supreme Court are checks for each other then it seems that in a system that the House is no longer a check for the President then we have allowed the country to go in any direction that a specific party dictates. Sounds like a broken system.

    November 4, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. Patricia Johnson

    The constitution is very safe as is now our future. The people of the United States are bright and have stepped up and said "Enough Already!"

    Thank you my fellow Americans. Now let's fix what's broken.

    November 4, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |

    At least Susan Collins seems to be a rational Republican, and I do not make rash statements like often.

    November 4, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  10. AMY



    November 4, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  11. Tiff of lithia springs

    Good luck with that! You'll definately pick up the seat in Alaska though. Ha Ha.

    November 4, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  12. Peter (CA)

    Amen NT!
    That is what allowed Bush to shred the Constitution for 6 years. The Republicans were arrogant, thinking that they could do whatever they wanted, often times shutting the Democrats out of meetings because they did not even need Democratic votes. This is why the Republicans eventually lost their power.

    November 4, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  13. California Gold

    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the future because of a majority in Congress. That leaves no room for the individuals and clearly Barack Obama has made it abundantly clear he does not share the same POV as Mrs. Pelosi and/or Mr. Reed on certain issues.

    November 4, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  14. Brandon from Ohio

    Arthur - the Republicans wouldn't be in this position if they made good decisions...a spade is a spade brother, call it as such.

    November 4, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. balance is good

    I am an independent who strongly supports Barack Obama and I am excited about tonight. But I think for the democrats to have complete filibuster-proof control would not be good. There always has to be some kind of balance.

    November 4, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. Phillip - UC Berkeley


    Yeah, because the Democrats are the ones who have been trying to 'suspend' the constitution in recent years...

    November 4, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. PK

    Republicans should be asking themselves what kind of madness caused them to let Sarah Palin run as VP. It wiped out all chances of winning over Hilary Clinton supporters.

    November 4, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  18. Capn Al

    The republican party is being thrown out of office because instead of following their ideology of reducing government they contracted it out to friends and ended up paying more for less. They reduced taxes for the fat-cats and financed the balance just like the idiots who thought 150% mortgages sounded like a good deal because they never intended to pay the balance. Well the GOP is getting it's foreclosure notice tonight!

    November 4, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. Crystal

    Obama is nowhere near being the same as George W. Bush. I don't think it is possible for anyone to be that out of touch. Unlike Bush, Obama actually cares what happens to this country, and the people. I also think that way about John McCain. I hope we never have another president that will put settling personal scores above what is best for America.

    November 4, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  20. JN

    Conservatives should quit their whining. I didn't hear you guys complaining when Newt and his cronies controlled the Legislative branch. If the Democratics get to 60, then it is because the People have spoken. .

    November 4, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. TJ

    It's official. The Democrats will not get to 60 in the senate. Thank God!!! This is great news even if Obama becomes the next president. He'll basically be a powerless president, and the bulk of his liberal legislation will now never go through! Thankgoodness!!!

    November 4, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  22. bon

    I think people voted for Barack Obama not because they wanted change nor were they anticipating good times if the Democrats were voted into power. The real reason Republicans are going to be swamped in this election is because of voter anger at the way this present administration ran the country for the last 8 years.

    November 4, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  23. Adrian

    Seriously Arthur what are you on about? This is what happens when people vote. If you are so torn up about it maybe the American people should push to end the two party system.

    PS It is pretty cool that you have such amazing doomsday fears. For example I think our constitution has been pillaged for the past 8 years. Let's face it we aren't all equal to start off with.....and the list could go on.

    November 4, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  24. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    November 4, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  25. Andrew

    The republicans deserve to be outed. They failed the people that elected them. Now we have an enormous deficit, an impendingly huge debt, and a failing economy. Put that on top of an unpopular war and this election loss was inevitable. This is what happens when republicans elect social conservatives instead of fiscal conservatives.

    BUT let me say that a 60 seat majority in the senate would spell disaster. It seems to me things work better when the legislative and executive branches are split in power; in that case, legislation must be at least somewhat centrist or it dies. Instead, control of this magnitude by one party will lead to even greater and more reckless spending. Unchecked leftist policies will be just as destructive as those of the right.

    November 4, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
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