The U.S Senate requires that the prevailing party retain a supermajority of 60 members or more in order to break a filibuster. Since 2006, the Democrats have been seeking out this number, claiming that the filibuster tactic and their narrow majority prevents them from achieving much.
While all eyes have been on McCain and Obama, Democratic contenders for the Senate throughout the country have been making considerable strides, marked most poignantly with their fundraising, which in recently years was usually easier for Republicans.
According to Bolu Adeyeye on July 25, 2006:
Democratic candidates themselves appear financially well-positioned heading into the fall. From April through June, Minnesota candidate Al Franken raised $2.26 million compared to Sen. Norm Coleman’s $2.35 million. Former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove raised $814,000 to conservative interim Senator Roger Wicker’s $822,000. In North Carolina, Democratic nominee Kay Hagan has $1.54 million to Elizabeth Dole’s $1.69 million. And in Maine, Democratic Congressman Tom Allen has $1 million to incumbent Susan Collins $1.06 million. The big leads are evident too. In Virginia, Warner has $3 million and Gilmore has less than $500,000. In Oregon, Merkley has $1.42 million and Smith has $1.35 million. In New Mexico, Tom Udall has $2.1 million and Pearce has $1.2 million. In Kentucky, Lunsford has $3.1 million and McConnell has $2.95 million. In Colorado, Mark Udall has $2.04 million to Schaffer’s $1.4 million. In Alaska Begich has $1 million to Stevens’ $745,000.
The conservative Washington Times felt compelled to publish a dreary editorial bemoaning the state of the congressional Republicans, while even sober analysts are predicting a shift of between five to seven seats into Democratic hands.
“Things are rolling for the Democrats,” said Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report. “I don’t laugh anymore at eight or nine. A few races have to fall into play but they are close. They have Virginia gone, New Mexico is also gone, and six races are toss ups, including Minnesota, which [despite recent good news for Coleman] will still be a close race.”
Indeed, it may no longer be so much of a pipe dream for the Democrats to gain the much-vaunted 60 vote majority needed to bypass GOP filibustering on the Senate floor. It is a long shot, of course, entailing many unforeseen circumstances, including the caucus keeping Sen. Joseph Lieberman among its ranks. And yet, the wheels are clearly rolling.
Lieberman’s recent actions all but suggest that he will not be caucusing with the Democrats in 2009. However the 60-Democrat-supermajority, although slim, is beginning to look like a possibility.