From a well-informed e-mailer who, sadly, was righter than anyone on NRO about the elections:
I think there will (eventually) be a lot made of the anomolous seats that the Ds won Tuesday, with the argument being that Rs are naturally halfway there to regaining their majority. (TX-22; FL-FOLEY; NH 1 OR 2; OH-NEY; NY-20 AND 24 being ripe for R pickups next time.
Let’s remember 2 things:
1) While the D’s have historically, other than Tuesday, proven bad at winning seats, they are remarkably good at holding onto them. I’m a Congress nerd and I am hard-pressed to remember an election since 2000 in which D’s lost more than 1 incumbent not affected by redistricting.
2) I expect a large number of House R retirements, and some of those seats will quickly flip to the Ds: Bill Young in St. Pete; David Dreier; Chris Shays; Jim Walsh? Democrats have shown a remarkable willingness to stay in office despite being in the minority. (Not surprising given how easy it is to be a congressman with a Tues-Thurs workweek.)
In reading NROs blog, I really thought you guys were whistling past the graveyard for the past week. It was plain for a while that Talent was mired in the mid-40s and that Allen was desperate. (The 2-minute ad Monday night with the Squire — Warner — was too little, too late.)
The Squire, Uncle Pete (Domenici) and Thad Cochran are all likely candidates to retire in 2008, and each of those seats is possible or likely to be taken by a D. Dems may not lose a single incumbent.
All of this amounts to the strong likelihood that the D majority in Congress is semi-permanent.
I also know that Dems are petrified that they’ll screw this up or that the natural tendency of the Senate towards de facto minority control will saddle them with the do-nothing Congress label.