If pride does in fact goeth before a fall, the democrats are once again setting themselves up wonderfully as Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) plans for a third straight democratic gain in the senate, on top of the spoils won in 06 and 08. The extent to which the GOP would have to screw up in order for the electorate to give wholesale control of the senate to the party with a reputation for snatching defeat from victory on par with George McClellan is simply frightening to imagine. They’d have to each eat a live puppy on national television en masse, and even then Utah and most of the South would still remain staunchly red.

Menendez noted five currently-held GOP seats are set to be vacated in 2010, most of them in traditional swing states: Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Kansas. Meanwhile, no current Democratic senators have plans to retire, though the president’s Cabinet appointments have technically left Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Delaware without an incumbent Democrat.

First, Ohio and Florida are states where the result is almost always unknown until the votes are actually counted, and even then things tend to get iffy. Kansas is famously conservative, and what little polling data there is at this point has any republican ahead of any democrat in Missouri by 13 points (thank you, Electoral Vote).  And as even the article itself has amended, with Gregg no longer bound for commerce New Hampshire isn’t even an open seat anymore. Several further things to keep in mind: Any polling data prior to 3 months from the election is basically useless for horseracing purposes, none of these races even have challengers yet, incumbents are famously difficult to depose,  the American people generally prefer divided government, and we still have no idea who the hell is going to represent Minnesota.

The current top-down democratic government, fraying caucuses aside, is more the result of fallout from the GOP’s massive fuckups over the course of the last 8 years than a genuine leftward shift. This being a two-party system, the opposition can only gain from the majority’s misfortunes, and as we all well know the GOP’s misfortunes, esp from mid 2006 on, have been nothing short of manifest. Despite karl rove’s promulgation of the myth of the “permanent majority”, American elections are won and lost not on the basis of massive ideological shifts but on current events and issues, which is why the last three months of any election, especially the oft-cited “October Surprise” often end up being so decisive. Speaking quite broadly, the American media, and thus to a large extent  electorate, has the attention span of a hummingbird on meth.  Expecting us to remain tied to any one ideology when there are so many shiny objects issues to consider can be charitably called unrealistic.

That said, unless Obama literally does wave a magic wand (complete with fairy dust) and makes everything okay again the best the democrats can hope for realistically is to hold steady, although I can’t deny a legitimate shot at one or two more seats may present themselves as events unfold. And as always, the effectiveness of the GOP’s own soul searching will aid/dilute democratic efforts.Finally, the democrats are always their own worst enemies, and Nancy Pelosi has not yet begun to fight.

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