What to Watch for 2: Senate Supermajority?



Source: elections.nytimes.com

The Democrats currently control the House and barely control the Senate (51-49). In the Senate, the majority party can be stopped by any single senator’s filibuster…unless sixty senators vote for cloture to stop the filibuster. Hence, if Democrats win a 60-seat supermajority in the senate tonight, they can pass whatever laws they all agree upon, no matter what opposition they get from Republicans.


As Sen. Schumer said on Face the Nation, “60, that’s very, very difficult. It’s possible, but unlikely.” Democrats will almost certainly pickup more seats, but making it all the way up to 60 is a long shot. Still, if Obama wins Pennsylvania and Virginia early in the night, the Senate race is where I’ll turn my attention.

51: Current Democrat Senators, including Sanders (I-VT) and Lieberman (I-CT)

Getting to a 60-seat Supermajority

56: Safe Wins

  • Virginia: M. Warner (D) replaces J. Warner (R) (defeats Gillmore)
  • New Mexico: T. Udall (D) replaces Pearce (R)
  • Colorado: M. Udall (D) replaces Schaffer (R)
  • Alaska: Begich (D) replaces Stevens (R)
  • New Hampshire: Shaheen (D) replaces Sununu (R)

58: Probable Wins

  • Oregon: Merkley (D) replaces Smith (R)
  • North Carolina: Hagan (D) replaces Dole (R)

59: Toss-up

  • Minnesota: Franken (D) replaces Coleman (R)

Al Franken (yes, that Al Franken) is trying to unseat Norm Coleman in what could be the closest race of the night. They are statistically tied in the polls with some showing Franken slightly ahead and other showing Coleman slightly ahead. My college roommate Andy Barr is on the Franken campaign staff, so I’ll be watching this especially close.

60?: Run-off

  • Georgia: Martin (D) forces a run-off with Chambliss (R)

Incumbent Chambliss is comfortably ahead in the polls put has only made it to the 40s. If Chambliss does not get at least 40%, there will be a December 2 run-off election between the two.

61: Long-shot Upset

  • Kentucky: Lunsford (D) replaces McConnell (R) despite McConnell’s lead in the polls.

If Democrats get a supermajority, it’ll be the first time democrats have had the White House, a majority in the House, and a supermajority in the Senate since 1965 and 1933.

Thanks again to fivethirtyeight.com for the analysis. I have been unable to find an interactive graphic that I really like for the senate races. The New York Times (shown) has the best graphic I’ve seen but still not great. If you know of a better senate graphic, let me know, and I’ll link to it.

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