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Insights: Politics—The Election's Even Split

The 2001 Congress will likely be divided down the middle
Dick Morris
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, Nov/Dec 00

(continued from page 2)

Zell Miller (disclaimer: a former client of mine) will almost certainly defeat former GOP Senator Mack Mattingly, so the state will also switch to the Democrats this fall.   A six-seat gain would usually be enough to topple the GOP from power in the Senate. Before Coverdell's death, the Republicans had a 55-45 margin in the body. A switch of six seats would give the Democrats a 51-49 majority.

But--two states with Democratic senators are likely to go Republican:  


Highly popular former GOP Governor George Allen faces longtime incumbent Democrat Charles S. Robb, whose pedigree goes back to his marriage to Lyndon Johnson's daughter 30 years ago. Robb is vulnerable and Allen has led in most early polls. Virginia, where Bush will undoubtedly win, will probably go Republican for the Senate.  


The retirement of Democratic Senator Richard Bryan opens a seat whose most likely heir will be former GOP Congressman John Ensign. In a state where a congressman represents half of the population, a House seat is a huge plus in a statewide election. Give the edge here to the GOP.  

If the Democrats pick up six seats and the GOP gains two, the Republicans can hang on for a 51-49 seat victory.  

But two races are really far too close to call--New York, where Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio are locked in a seesaw battle for a formerly Democratic seat, and Missouri, where GOP Senator John D. Ashcroft faces a tough challenge from Governor Mel Carnahan. Either seat is anyone's guess. Mine is that Clinton and Ashcroft both will win, and there will be no change in party control in either state.  

Oddly, the Democrats may need 51 seats to win control of the Senate, even if Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are elected. Normally, if the election produces a 50-50 tie, the vice president will break it for his own party, in this case, giving the Democrats control. But Lieberman is also running for reelection in Connecticut. Should he win as vice president, he will, of course, resign the Senate seat. His resignation would pave the way for Connecticut's Republican governor, John Rowland, to name a GOP replacement to fill in for the next year.

Thus, if the Democrats win 50 seats, they cannot use Lieberman to break the tie, since his seat will have gone Republican and the body will again be in GOP hands. So the Republicans need 50 seats to win control while the Democrats need 51! (If Lieberman changes his mind and gives up the Senate seat before Election Day, a Democrat could, of course, win the election to replace him. Then the Democrats could win control with 50 seats if Gore wins).  

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