“If you look at a state like Virginia, some of these other swing states, the Senate seat is likely to flow with a strong performance by Mitt Romney,” she said, referring to the race between former Virginia governors Timothy M. Kaine (D) and George Allen (R).
She added that a good showing by Romney could also benefit former health and human services secretary Tommy Thompson (R) in his campaign against Democrat Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin.
Democrats’ new urgency
The tighter races have provoked a new level of urgency from Democrats who, while conceding nothing about Obama’s chances, have argued that a Democratic Senate would be a firewall against GOP radicalism in the event of a Romney presidency.
“The Senate has been the bulwark against extremism,” said Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.). “The Senate is the key to preventing him from putting a policy in place that is dramatically extending the level of unfairness and dramatically increasing America’s economic problems.”
Top donors to the party describe a new flurry of activity and contribution requests from Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and other leading Democrats.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the architect of the current Democratic majority, said that if Romney won and Democrats lost the Senate, it could mean the “dismantling” of the country’s regulatory framework and a rolling back of the Voting Rights Act.
He lamented what Romney’s potential Supreme Court appointments would mean.
“If we have another conservative Supreme Court justice, I think it changes America dramatically for a generation,” said Schumer, who said he has spent much of the past month raising money and campaigning with Democratic incumbents and challengers. He said he speaks daily to five or six Democratic candidates.
“For the hard right, the gold mine is controlling the Supreme Court, and a Republican-majority Senate brings them much further along to doing that,” he said.
Republicans, of course, don’t think the prospect of conservative control is frightening at all.
“A terrible thing might happen if Republicans gain the majority: We might have a budget even! We might even have to debate a budget,” said Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), voicing a common GOP complaint that Democratic leaders in the Senate have not passed a budget in three years.
Regardless of how individual races turn out, it seems clear that neither party will win enough seats to reach a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority. And that means the parties will have to find a way to work together — or continue to live with the gridlock that has plagued Washington in recent years.
“There are not enough votes in the United States Senate for one party to run over the other,” Portman said.
Paul Kane contributed to this report.