Monday, November 03, 2008

2008 Senate Outlook

As the 2008 election cycle wanes, Democrats remain poised to make major gains in the Senate. As our chart indicates, seven GOP seats are likely to fall to Democrats, with an eighth, Minnesota, a toss-up. If Al Franken (D) ousts Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in the Gopher State, Democrats would need to win one of three other seats – Georgia, Kentucky or Mississippi – to get to a net gain of 9 – and 60 votes in the Senate, assuming that Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman remains in the Democratic caucus.

Democratic candidates trail in all three of those contests, but questions about turnout (particularly African American turnout), which won’t be answered until Tuesday night, continue to make outcomes uncertain. If no candidate in Georgia receives an absolute majority of the vote, the state will have a runoff on December 2nd to pick a winner.

The only Democratic-held Senate seat of any interest, Louisiana’s, continues to be confusing, since polling is contradictory. Unlike many, we continue to believe it’s worth watching for a possible upset since GOP polling shows the race very close and Republican John Kennedy gaining on the incumbent. Obviously, a victory by Kennedy over Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) would be a significant upset according to most and make a nine-seat Democratic gain far more difficult.

As we have been saying for a couple of weeks, the most likely outcome is a Democratic net gain of 7-9 seats. Click here for our final Senate ratings.