Political Outlook 2008
On the Democratic side, only one seat appears to be in jeopardy. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has squeaked by before based on her popularity in her hometown of New Orleans. But in the fall, Louisiana elected Republican Rep. Bobby Jindahl as governor. Landrieu could be in trouble due to those who left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have never returned.
The magic number is 60. If the Democrats are able to increase their numbers, now at 51, to 60, they will have the votes needed to stymie any Republican filibusters. Nine seats seem like a stretch, but who thought the Democrats would have seized the Senate majority two years ago?
The U.S. House of Representatives
To regain the House majority, Republicans need to gain 16 seats. In a normal election cycle, that would be highly possible. In the current climate of an unpopular war, an unpopular president, and a party that appears to have lost its brand of fiscal responsibility, it seems like a long reach. On the other hand, the new House Democratic majority has now been in control for a year with not much to show for it and the public appears just as dissatisfied with them as the Republicans.
As a percentage of each committee’s stated goals, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is doing a better job of recruiting than is the NRCC. It has failed to recruit candidates who appear credible in only three of the 44 Republican-held districts it is promoting as vulnerable to a Democratic takeover.
Although the political road ahead seems smoother for the Democrats, lots can change before Election Day 2008. If the war goes better and recedes as an issue, that could impact the election terrain. A downturn could propel the economy into greater prominence as an issue that favors either the Republicans or Democrats — whoever can present the best road to recovery.
After reading this, you may be asking yourself “Why should I care?” Let me tell you why.
You should care because the next president of the United States and the 111th Congress will preside over the next surface transportation reauthorization. Hopefully, they will realize the transportation vision for the 21st century.
You should care because Congress makes the laws that either facilitate commerce and economic prosperity or stifle it through higher taxes and more restrictive statutes that legislate increased regulatory burdens.
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