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

Dem leaders warn of 'irrational exuberance'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.vansplit.ap.jpg caption="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. Claudia

    My only hope is that we don't experience corruption as we've seen in the past election of Bush. I'm sure the democrat party heads have all their attorneys ready for battle.

    July 24, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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