Sure they could. At his Washington Post blog The Fix, Chris Cillizza assesses the Democrats’ prospects for getting to the “holy grail” of Senate control–60 seats–over the next couple of election cycles. He thinks they aren’t too bad:
The last time a party held 60 or more seats was three decades ago when Democrats had 61 seats in the 95th Congress (1977-1979). But, the combination of a toxic political environment for Republicans and a relatively small number of Democratic vulnerabilities has skilled observers — including Fix friend and Roll Call columnist Stu Rothenberg — starting to talk about the possibility of Democrats getting to 60 in the next two or four years.
There’s no question that at this point in the 2008 cycle all signs point to Democratic gains. The American public long ago soured on both President Bush and the war in Iraq and there is little tangible evidence of a coming wholesale turnaround. Republicans have also been barraged by a series of troubling developments, from the mishandling of veterans care at Walter Reed to the ongoing investigation into the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. Many Republican strategists thought their party had hit rock bottom on Election Day 2006, but the political reality is that things have gotten measurably worse since then.
The raw numbers also point to a strong Democratic year in 2008. Democrats have just 12 seats to defend as compared to 21 for Republicans — by far the best ratio of the three Senate classes.
If present trends continue, the Republicans will indeed be in trouble in 2008, and given the seats at risk, they will likely suffer a net loss in the Senate regardless.
I wonder, though, whether the voters at large are as impressed by the Democrats’ obsession with investigations as those inside the Beltway seem to be. The voters want Congress to do the public’s business, not engage in partisan games. I think the Democrats are at some risk that voters may conclude they are using their majorities to pursue their war against the Bush administration rather than seek legislative solutions to problems. If that happens, the atmosphere in 2008 may not be as bad for Republicans as many now believe.
Still, right now the odds don’t look good.
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