Thursday, October 9, 2008

Will Dems Reach 'Magic 60'? Traders Say Not So Fast

After an early fall fraught with fear of another quadrennial collapse, even the most white-knuckled Democrats are beginning to believe the latest polls that show victory finally within reach.

Obama, of course, will make history however he winds up in Washington. But with Intrade currently projecting that he could win 364 electoral votes (and maybe as many as 375, if he wrests Indiana from the Republican column for the first time since 1964), Obama could even come close to Clinton's 1996 drubbing of Dole (379-159). As a result, some sanguine strategists and pollsters are beginning to whisper about another once-unthinkable objective: Reaching the magical 60 mark in the Senate.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, told CNN that the filibuster-proof margin is no longer a fantasy. "It's the perfect storm," he said. "You've got Republican voters angry at Republicans, many Americans just petrified about the future...wanting change. And right now change appears to be coming in the form of Democrats."

Even the much-maligned Mark Penn seems to think that Democrats are capable of mounting the type of landslide necessary to usher in their first ironclad margin in the Senate since 1977.

While Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, predicted Democrats will reach 60 seats. Senator Chuck Schumer, the head of the Democratic campaign operation in the Senate, was still hedging his bets.

The chances, he said, are "better than they were two weeks ago."

For the Democrats' dream to become a reality, they will need to win nine of 12 Republican-held Senate seats. 

Schumer is focusing on the following: Va., Ore., Minn., N.H., N.C., N.M., Colo., Alaska, Ky. 

Although the
latest polls put Democrats within striking distance in all those states, political traders at Intrade aren't yet quite as convinced. Democrats enjoy commanding leads in the markets in seven of those states, but traders believe Coleman and McConnell will hang on and deny Democrats their magic number. Furthermore, while "Democrats to Hold 56-60 seats after the 2008 election" is currently trading at 62.1 (a solid bet by all indications) on Intrade, "Democrats to Hold 61-65 seats" is only trading at 8.

Here's the latest comparison between Real Clear Politics and Intrade:

Poll Average: Warner +28.2
Intrade: Warner +86

Poll Average: Merkley +.8
Intrade: Merkley +19.5

Poll Average: Franken +2.2
Intrade: Coleman +4

New Hampshire:
Poll Average: Shaheen +5.4
Intrade: Shaheen +45.5

North Carolina:
Poll Average: Hagan +2.3
Intrade: Hagan +29

New Mexico:
Poll Average: Udall +17.7
Intrade: Udall +74

Poll Average: Udall +6
Intrade: Udall +57

Poll Average: Begich +2.8
Intrade: Begich 24.5

Poll Average: McConnell +6.5
Intrade: McConnell +54.6

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