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Democrats face grim election day prospects

The question around Washington today is not whether November 2 will be a difficult day for the Democrats who control Congress, but rather how bad it will be. In exclusive association with The Washington Post

world Updated: Nov 15, 2010 23:34 IST
Karen Tumulty

The question around Washington today is not whether November 2 will be a difficult day for the Democrats who control Congress, but rather how bad it will be.

Increasingly, it looks like the answer depends on which chamber of Congress you're following.

The Cook Political Report now estimates that more than 90 Democratic House seats are potentially in play; on the Republican side of the aisle, it estimates that only nine appear in jeopardy. As a result, most leading forecasters say it is more likely that Republicans will win the 39 House seats they need to take control.

On the Senate side, however, the battle has narrowed to a handful of true nail-biters in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Colorado.

It would take a sweep of nearly all of them, improbable but not impossible, for the Republicans to pick up the 10 seats they need to gain control of the chamber. At this point, it's possible that Democrats will end up losing only three or four seats, and they will count that as a good night.

If these trends hold - if the Republicans do gain the House without also taking control of the Senate - that would represent a historic anomaly: Not since the election of 1930 has the House changed hands without the Senate following suit.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said on NBC's “Meet the Press” that an unprecedented GOP wave would win control of both chambers as well as state legislatures, in a broad condemnation of President Barack Obama and
Democratic policies. “The voters are tired of the fact that the federal government has not listened to them over the past two years,” Steele said.

Democrats are struggling to survive in a toxic political environment for a party in power: a weak economy; a president whose approval rate is sagging; an anti-Washington, anti-incumbent political mood; an opposition that appears more energised than their own base.

But one advantage that Democrats may have in 2010 that they didn't have in 1994 election, that saw Republicans regain control of that chamber for the first time in four decades, was the fact that they saw this one coming.

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