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Panel on Democrats' Prospects in the Senate

Panel on Democrats' Prospects in the Senate

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - October 9, 2008

HUME: OK, folks. Take a look at this chart. This represents the thinking of some of the best political forecasters around about gains or losses in the Senate seats.

This is gains. Charlie Cook thinks it's up three, Democrats, with six more toss-ups could go their way. Stew Rothenberg, his political report says he thinks Democrats are going to gain six. "The Congressional Quarterly" estimates plus five.

The question is, of course, can you get to 60? Not with those numbers you probably can't get to 60-60 is an absolute, filibuster-proof majority, you have 60 votes in your party.

But if you talk to the Republican leader Mitch McConnell, whose own seat, by the way, now appears to be in jeopardy, he will tell you that--he at 49 now. If he gets down--if he loses five seats and he is down to 44 mark, he thinks on many a vote he won't be able to pull together and hold everybody--won't be able to hold 40 senators.

And so what do we think we are looking at in the Senate after this fall--Mort?

KONDRAKE: Something bad for the Republicans.

By the way, the Democrats really have to pick up 10 seats in order to get to 60, because--

HUME: Do they need to get to 60 to have a working--

KONDRAKE: They don't need to get to 60. But on stuff like, perhaps, something that would benefit the unions, like card check, I don't know what they would need--probably card check there is enough liberal Republicans around to help the Democrats out.

But 60 is the magic number for difficult--any kind of difficult legislation.

HUME: But do you need to have 60 votes in your own caucus.

KONDRAKE: You do you not have to have 60. You probably need 57, 58, something like that, because the moderate Republicans are going to get wiped out in this one, and they are usually the ones who come over.

BARONE: I think, Brit, it depends on the issue and it depends on where we are with this financial meltdown showing us that things can be very different from what they seem.

On the card check bill, I'm not sure that the Democrats, even if they have--

HUME: Quickly the card check means--

BARONE: The card check would abolish secret ballots at union elections. The union guy comes around and you sign a card. If majority of workers sign a card the union is the bargaining agent.

HUME: And, of course, the card signed right in front of some union guy with another union guy behind him maybe--

BARONE: And they know where you live. So this is an attempt to try to unionize a large part of the economy.

I wonder whether Democratic senators from states like South Dakota and North Dakota and Nebraska are necessarily going to be counted on to vote if that's the crunch.

George McGovern voted against repeal of section 14-B, a bill in 1965 where Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats were beat when they had a bigger majority.

The other thing is unexpected things can happen. The last time Democrats had 61 votes in the Senate, they passed capital gains tax cut in 1978. There was a two to one Democratic House. They passed Section 401K which changed benefits.

And so sometimes a combination of financial unrest can produce unlikely results.

HUME: Last word, Jeff.

BIRNBAUM: I think the way this is going, especially because of the economic problems, that a wave election may be about to happen again.

HUME: Not just a change election, a wave.

BIRNBAUM: Right, a wave election that will bring in a filibuster- proof majority for the Democrats in the Senate. That's the way it's going.

And a larger number of net Republican gains in the House as well.

HUME: Democrat.

BIRNBAUM: --Democratic gains in the House as well, maybe as many as 30. That's what the experts in downtown in Washington are now saying.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

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