Can't you just taste the excitement with your uvula? Dems within striking distance, maybe, says CQ


Congressional Quarterly says it's all down to 18 "tossups" in the House, and the Democrats have an unlikely chance of gaining control of the Senate:

Democrats are increasingly bullish on their chances to net the gain of at least 15 seats that they need to oust the GOP's J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois as the Speaker of the House and install Nancy Pelosi of California instead.

As of Oct. 27, CQ's individual assessments of all 435 House races showed Democrats seriously contesting Republican holds on 72 seats (31 percent of the party's current total) with seven of those races already leaning toward a Democratic takeover and 18 more considered genuine tossups — the result of a combination of Republican political weaknesses and the Emanuel team's success at growing the roster of competitive Democratic challengers, many in districts that the party had not contested in years. By contrast, only 21 Democratic seats were in play, and only a handful appeared seriously at risk. The bottom line is that the Republicans are now ahead at least marginally in only 207 races, meaning that even if they hold on to all of those (which won't happen) they must win 11 of the 18 tossups to retain power. The Democrats are now ahead in 210 races — nine more than the number of seats they have now — so if they hold all those leads they will need to win just eight of the tossups to gain control.

As they have throughout the campaign, the Democrats face their more daunting task in the Senate: They must gain a net of six seats to take control — an all-the-more-unlikely prospect just two years after they lost four seats. But their quest has now put them within striking distance.

With 10 days to go, four GOP incumbents are now underdogs for re-election: Conrad Burns of Montana, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The Democratic bids in Missouri against Jim Talent and in Tennessee for the seat that Majority Leader Bill Frist is vacating are absolutely too close to call, while the party still has a clear shot at George Allen in Virginia. So if they win two out of three — and if they protect all their own seats, particularly that of New Jersey's Robert Menendez, who's also in a tossup — the Democrats should win the Senate.

Whole discussion here, with details on the close Senate races, the eight glorious mysteries of electioneering, and House details North, South, East, and West. Just to prove these guys don't really know anything you don't, there's also ominous talk of an October surprise (only hours left! Happy Halloween!), and a great prim reference to "Mark Foley's tawdry behavior toward congressional pages." But like most political prognostication, it's a vibrant species of on-the-one-hand-this-on-the-other-that.

Can the Dems still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? My ancient prophecy that the Republicans would retain both houses was based on the Democrats' proven ability to fuck up the proverbial one-man parade. And if this election is anything, it's a Monday morning walk of shame for President Bush. But I am impressed by how widespread the belief is that the Republicans are headed for a catastrophe. If nothing else, it will be nice to be proven wrong on this.