Because we haven’t seen Barack Obama campaigning enough on TV the past two weeks, the White House broadcast his meeting with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Issues Conference this morning.
The audio stream is here if you are just dying to hear him and aren’t near a boob tube.
The event was a dog-and-pony show with the majority’s most vulnerable Senators — Arlen Specter, Michael Bennet, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh — getting hand-picked by Harry Reid to ask “tough” questions (Will you join me in this? Sign on to that? Etc. Etc.).
At one point, President Obama started trashing “cable TV” again, reports Brian Stelter. Obama singled out Fox and CNN and told the Senators in the audience to turn the TVs off and stop watching the “echo chamber.”
After 5 minutes, I reached for the remote control and took Obama’s advice.
Running scared: Is the Senate majority now in play?
With the developments in Illinois and Indiana over the past 24 hours, the Cook Political Report now carries 10 Democratic-held seats in their most competitive categories — meaning, theoretically, that if Republicans ran the table (and lost none of their own toss up seats in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio) they could get to 51 seats and the Senate majority.
Is it a longshot? Absolutely. But, remember that recent history has shown that in a national political landscape tipped in favor of one party a strong majority of toss up contests tend to fall that party’s way.
At the end of the 2008 election cycle, Cook rated six Republican-held seat as tossups. Democrats won four of the six. Cook also rated three Republican seats as leaning toward Democrats. Democrats won all three of those.
Go back to the 2006 cycle and a similar trend is apparent. Cook had five Republican-held seats ranked as toss up and Democrats won four of them. Cook’s two Democratic-held toss ups were also won by Democrats.
So, it’s clear that inside straights can happen in Senate races.
The elephant in the room: GOP’s Senate prospects on the rise
The long-shot bid by Republicans to retake control of the Senate is suddenly in play, as the prospect of high-profile Republican candidates entering the fray has pushed the GOP even or ahead in polling for 10 races.
The potential candidacies of former Republican Govs. George E. Pataki in New York and Tommy G. Thompson in Wisconsin are improving the polling fortunes of the party as it pursues seats long in the hands of Democrats, while the anti-government “tea party” movement has provided momentum to Republican challengers in states such as Florida, Arkansas and Pennsylvania.
“If the election were held today, the Republicans could come close to winning back the Senate, if not actually win it,” said pollster John Zogby.
Republicans are solidly ahead to take at least five seats now held by Democrats – in North Dakota, Delaware, Nevada, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. Five more are now considered winnable – Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and even liberal New York. Two other races, in California and Washington, are tightening daily.