Seats of Power

NPR looks at The Other Campaign: 2008's Senate Race

Hey, Democrats! You know how your party is basically on the verge of implosion, teetering on the precipice of permanent fragmentation, getting up close and personal with (the donkey-riding men of the) Apocalypse? Or something like that?

Well, good news! The silver lining to those dank, dark clouds of an ongoing nominating contest might actually be Democratic Blue. NPR reminds us today that, no matter how the battle for the Oval Office turns out, the Dems will likely, come November, win everyone’s favorite consolation prize: the Senate! Again! And with gains that will significantly increase their majority!

Here’s Mara Liasson, making lemonade of, as she calls it, “this very, very long and bitter Democratic nominating fight”:

It’s interesting: Democrats have been competing in states they would never visit if the fight had been wrapped up in February. And when they visit these states, they put down roots, and they organize. And turnout is up, incredibly. And most important, they’re registering new Democrats. In Virginia, where there’s an open Senate race, I’m told there are 700,000 more Democrats this cycle than last cycle. So Democrats are very, very optimistic.

To accompany the story—and, perhaps, to remind us that There Are Other Things in the World Than the Presidential Campaign—NPR today unveiled its “2008 Senate Outlook” map, an interactive graphic that provides background information on each of the upcoming races, and that projects, to the extent possible, the outcome of November’s contests. (As of now, Liasson reports, Dems are expecting a sizeable pickup, for a grand total of 53-56 final seats.) So, rest easy, Dr. Dean: however the race for the White House turns out, looks like the Senate will be blue.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.